Small Joys Amidst the Turbulence of Pandemic and Social Unrest
After Susan Mitchell’s “Blackbirds”
Because it is mid-morning, I take
my dog for a walk, and because
my dog is a stubborn ass, I must
stand at the edge of a neighbor’s lawn
rattling a tin of treats and white privilege.
The sun is already warm. I fold light right
up into my pocket, which knows how
to hold on to things, keeping them snug
sometimes through several washings.
Light rests against my thigh as I
read the will of an Afro-Peruvian woman
named Juana Barba who lived 400 years ago.
She gave money to have a cloak
made for a statue of the Virgin Mary.
All afternoon my hands braid
together tiny strands to weave
joy from a multitude of things: recently
my husband had a cold and not
COVID-19; cilantro tastes light and bright and not
like Lysol to me; storks are nesting high
on poles across Andalucía; a coonhound sleeps
under my feet; caramel exists and I
bake it into salty cookies. My nieces
are holding a cartwheel contest.
From now on, I want to end each day
by examining the contents of my righthand
pocket. The light cannot belong to any one person.
I open my fingers to admire it and let it escape.
It swoops across the fireweed and into
the throats of chanting protestors:
Black Lives Matter.
Ray Ball grew up in a house full of snakes. She is a history prof, an editor at Coffin Bell, and enjoys getting walked by her hounddog twice a day. Her sophomore chapbook Lararium is coming out with Variant Lit in December. You can find her poems in Glass, Louisiana Literature, Rivet, and elsewhere.