Johanna Ely

NOVEMBER 7th, 2020

Is it okay to cheer,
to say out loud that today
is a new morning,
a new world?

Like an abused child
who has been kept
imprisoned inside a dark closet,
I must be coaxed out,
frightened and blinded by the bright light,
flinching from any touch of kindness
after all the years of random beatings.

A butterfly flutters
close to my face,
shows me how to break out
of my chrysalis of grief—
my wings wet, stiff,
painful to shake loose.

She guides me
towards an open window,
towards a sky, blue and welcoming,
and floating on this morning’s breeze
I take flight.


0-13JOHANNA ELY is the author of three poetry books, Transformation, Tides of the HeartPoems for Benicia, and Postcards From a Dream (Blue Light Press 2020). She is an award-winning poet, and had a poem nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018. She has also been published in literary journals and anthologies. Johanna served as the sixth poet laureate for Benicia. In 2018, she collected poems written by the Benicia First Tuesday Poets, and put forth the anthology, Light and Shadow, published by Benicia Literary Arts. Until COVID-19 changed our world, Johanna hosted the monthly poetry series, Poetry Inside Out, inviting poets from all over the Bay Area to come to Benicia and read their work. She also enjoys writing ekphrastic poetry, and has coordinated many ekphrastic readings at the local galleries. Johanna is on the board of Benicia Literary Arts, and the Ina Coolbrith Circle of Poets, helping to organize prose and poetry events.

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