Ronda Piszk Broatch


—NYTimes headline, 23 March 2020

Stop and take a breath. The world will keep spinning,

and I remember how I had to lie down after the light
outside the windows dimmed, my fingers frozen to the keyboard
like pigeons in a wind clinging to a building at the end
of a long pier. We wonder why we catastrophize,

open the garden shed door after a hard winter to find
our geraniums still green and thriving. Instead of railing
against the shortage of empathy, we accept uncertainty:
will it rain today, who will like my post on Facebook,

the photo where my cat rests her chin on the table, or
how a Chinese company sends tens of thousands
of respirator masks to Italy, stapling to shipping crates
lines of Seneca: We are waves from the same sea, leaves

from the same tree, and flowers from the same garden.
Today as clouds shelter us like an awning from God, I try hard
to stick to the facts: there are twenty thousand eight hundred
twenty-one fewer residents of planet earth, that I could say

I love you with two empty soup cans, connected with string.
You would tell me out of four hundred fifty-nine thousand
six hundred seventy-one cases of corona virus to avoid
all-or-nothing thinking. And I might remind you that in five

minutes of constant rain no one else has died, how I minimized
that link without a second thought. Meanwhile the world spins,
poverty goes on as it does, and as soon as temperatures rise
I’ll put the geraniums outside to drink the downpour,

maybe get involved sewing masks for nurses and every
loved one I can put my arms around. You stop and take
a breath, your voice so far away, the scent of soup remaining
strong as you tell me, take care of yourself. And I will.

Poet and photographer, RONDA PISZK BROATCH is the author of Lake of Fallen Constellations (MoonPath Press, 2015). Ronda was a finalist for the Four Way Books Prize, and her poems have been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. Her journal publications include Blackbird, Prairie Schooner, Sycamore Review, Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, and Public Radio KUOW’s All Things Considered, among others.

Other work
When I Said I Wasn’t Afraid of Wintering

Link to Table of Contents.


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