The Coronavirus & A Poem of the Day: Jennifer Jackson Berry

Hi friends! Happy Monday night.

I know the world is strange and unpredictable right now, and I know we’re all going through a lot. But I hope you’re doing okay, wherever you are, and you are still finding some joy in your days.

Me, I’ve been focusing on getting my home in order, taking care of my children, and throwing myself deeper into reading and writing. I’m grateful to say, I’ve been actively doing both for a long time now, though not posting about it online so much, but now I want to throw myself deeper into it.

I also want to share part of my process, because I know that reading poetry is good for us, and it can put us in a better place, a better mood. Though I can’t fix everything, I’d like to at least do something small, and get back to sharing good poetry.

I probably won’t post every single day, though I will certainly try. Tonight, I have a poem by Jennifer Jackson Berry for you, and tomorrow, I have a poem by Ralph Angel. He recently passed away, and I knew him, and I’ve been struggling to accept it. But the next best thing I can do is share his work. So that will happen tomorrow.

For tonight, I’m not sharing the happiest poem, but I don’t think that’s the point. This poem has taught me a great deal about what it means to write about a tough subject, not only from a unique perspective, but to also take the topic to stranger places as a means of expressing new truths about it.

It serves as a great reminder that we can write about anything we need to. Sometimes it will be hard, and sometimes we won’t want to share with anyone what we wrote that day. But we can tell ourselves that we did the work, and that we are in some small way better for it. Our stories are a little more present because of what we’ve done (and I’m all about everyone getting a chance at telling their story).

That’s enough from me. Here is the lovely and tragic “I Lost Our Baby” by Jennifer Jackson Berry, from her equally unique collection, The Feeder:

I LOST OUR BABY

I lost our baby in between the couch cushions,
under the car seat, in the trunk.
I lost our baby at Cedar Point—she was rolled up
in a plastic money holder I wore around my neck.
It looked like soap-on-a-rope & I left it
on the back of the toilet after changing wet clothes.
I lost our baby during a party—
she was on top of the fridge, then she was gone.
I lost our baby in the bottom of my purse
& when she rolled under the bed.
I lost our baby when I moved from the third floor
walk-up apartment. I lost our baby at a Good Will
drop-off site in Bloomington, Indiana.
I lost our baby when I was walking through the parking lot—
my keychain broke & she slipped right off.
I lost our baby in a friend’s house fire.
I lost our baby in the dorms
when the girl across the hall borrowed her & never returned her.
I lost our baby even though I wrote my name on her,
with a cute little stamp of a teddy bear reading.
This baby belongs to Jennifer. I lost our baby
on trash day, on my birthday, on a Thursday.
I lost our baby in dozens of pearls bouncing
across linoleum tiles—I had her in my mouth
& the thread snapped.

—from Jennifer Jackson Berry’s The Feeder (YesYes Books, 2016)

Enjoy, friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with our next poem. Take care of yourselves out there, keep reading, keep writing, and fight for your stories to be known. Your story deserves to be heard.

&

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