This is not the smiling baby on the train that I remember.
This one’s more serious;
one who collects faces. (1)

I must have been looking in from another track
while a third train ran between, layers of glass
creating an undersea effect.

On the seabed there will be domes
for women without purpose, who like to gaze out
and judge quietly.

The babies will be kept safe
by women who write about hearth,
able to see through small eyes.

What I see through small eyes
is nothing but panic.
I remember the panic.

(1) This refers to Tania Hershman’s poem Baby


My mother
who made me
who drew elements from the stars to do so

she holds me

accountable for my actions
She is a tough teacher and
her lesson is urgent

She holds me

down when I try to turn away
She sleeps with locked doors, provides
no gateway to the stars

She holds me

responsible for her grief
I owe her the stars, and
her gifts should not go to waste

She holds me

cradles and supports me

and I owe her because she made me.

This poem was written for a prompt by @mghughesauthor on Instagram.

More than this

I’m your dark room, your rough stone walls
damp with unease. Here to inhabit you,

not what you wanted, but it’s what you got.
If you argue, you’ve already lost.

I’m what you haven’t been receiving
and you will suffer more for it.

Because if you would only turn your attention to existing,
the confined spaces in your head would widen

and you would find new spaces to inhabit.
Your heart would calm your mind and

you would realize that the blind joys you’re missing
were stopping you from seeing life as it is.

Nothing to rely on in this world except cycles,
day and night, summer and winter.

Here’s your life to be found;
in admiration of change.

I have elicited kindness and creativity.
I have also revealed the cracks in your societies

where the most vulnerable suffer most.
The glass was always broken and there

is your opportunity, because you are a conduit.
Let the information flow through you.

I’m trying to teach you to take the kindness and creativity
and to start mending those cracks.

I am here, but you are going to be okay,
and things will never be quite the same.

As if in Florence

from The Decameron by Boccaccio, p. 50

Day was seated and ready,
to seek attention,
to protect herself with virtue most beautiful,
her reason sending some to wonder.

I recently participated in a collaborative art project by Unprecedented. In their own words, ‘Unprecedented is a public poetry project that circulates pages of The Decameron between small groups of people, one year after the COVID-19 crisis was first declared. We reflect on the solitude, urgency, travesty, and strange beauty that is now nearing becoming a thing of the past.
Each person receives a page in the mail and blacks out part of Boccaccio’s text. What’s left on the page reveals a poem.’

If you’d like to browse the returned pages or sign up to join the project, just head on over to the Unprecedented website.