Masked, I walk South from my sanctuary,
steps on leaden cement, gray mantle overhead
quieting my spirit, one foot in front of the other.
I veer right onto asphalt, then a gravel path
into Perkins Woods, refuge of oak, elm and ash,
never cut, on land the way it always was, swampy,
obsidian water, tree stumps, an occasional Mallard.
Bird calls frequent in quiet, unmoving air.
Two miles East, a hospital, inaudible to me,
where too few fight for too many, tired orderlies,
nurses, doctors, their fatigue mixed with fear,
actors who know their roles in the play of their lives.
In these silent woods, spatter of rain, a distant siren
bridges the gap to inhale and exhale of ventilators,
bleep of monitors, soft steps of shoe covers, their mantra
just to keep going, one foot in front of the other.
George Stevenson is a retired businessman who has been writing poetry part-time for 20 years. He was born in oil country in Oklahoma, raised in farm country in Missouri, and studied in Iowa and at Harvard. He has taken poetry workshops led by a number of excellent poets and has been published in periodicals such as Rhino, Willow Review, 100 Words and Third Wednesday. He tries to write accessible poems based on small events, usually in the Midwest, and hopes broader themes will emerge for readers. He lives with his wife in Evanston, Illinois,