Poems by Roberta Schultz and Sherry Cook Stanforth for Postcards from the Pandemic: A Cincinnati Poetry Month Project

For the final day of Poetry Month, the yin and yang of our quarantined  lives, co-existing within us. Both poems are presented in English and in Spanish, as  translated by Manuel Iris. Join us tomorrow, May 1, for a bonus installment of Postcards from the Pandemic.

Pinned
By Roberta Schultz

There’s a paralysis
that happens during sleep.
You try to run, but suddenly
your legs won’t obey.
The heft of gravity smacks
your face to the mat.

That’s how I ended up
spread eagle on the roof
of a semi last night—
face down, gasping for air
as the massive truck throttled
through the dark tunnel of my dream.

My fingers grasped the slippery edge
between cab and windshield.
When I dared look, my knuckles bent
white against gale force.
My limp body flagged
in the head wind.

I can’t do this anymore.

I whimpered to my husband
who wrangled the 18-wheeler
into the nearest parking lot,
leaning hard on the brakes.

You don’t have to.

He opened the door
to help me climb down
into the warm cab equipped
with a cassette player.
As I rifled through the glove box
in search of a tape, any tape,
I woke up, cat clinging
to my soaked back.

The overnight news
droned its steady toll:
the sick and the dead,
the sick and the dead.

 

Inmóvil

Por Roberta Schultz, traducido por Manuel Iris

Hay una parálisis
que sucede durante el sueño.
Intentas correr, y de repente
la piernas no obedecen,
el peso de la gravedad golpea
tu cara contra el colchón.

Así es como anoche terminé
con las piernas y los brazos abiertos
sobre el techo de la cabina de un tráiler
boca abajo, sin aliento
mientras el enorme camión aceleraba
a través del oscuro túnel de mi sueño.

Mis dedos se aferraron al resbaladizo borde
entre cabina y parabrisas.
Cuando me atreví a mirar, mis nudillos palidecieron
contra la fuerza del vendaval.
Mi cuerpo flácido se mecía como un trapo
en el viento.

Ya no puedo seguir haciendo esto.

Le gemí a mi esposo
que forzó al camión de 18 ruedas
a entrar al estacionamiento más cercano,
pisando fuertemente los frenos.

No tienes que hacerlo.

Abrió la puerta
para ayudarme a bajar
a la templada cabina
equipada con un reproductor de cassette.
Mientras yo revolvía la guantera
buscando una cinta, cualquier cinta,
desperté, con mi gato apretándose
a mi espalda empapada.

Las noticias de la noche
zumbaron su conteo permanente:
enfermos y muertos,
enfermos y muertos.

 

Roberta Schultz lives in Wilder, KY which is approximately 6 miles from downtown Cincinnati. She wrote this poem as part of an epistolary poem prompt in Pauletta Hansel’s From Draft to Craft Poetry Class at Thomas More University, where partners answered each other’s poems. Her forthcoming book, Touchstones, is available for pre-order.

Home Dharma
by Sherry Cook Stanforth

I.
A house sparrow has nested
in my gardening boot,
stashed on a garage shelf.
Three eggs, dappled and glowing,
form her simple agenda—
when I open the door
to the shadow-sliced world,
off she sails, living
without terror or boredom,
each day a sanctuary,
each worm a reason to sing.

II.
Barking venerable masters
rake paws along my leg—
gentle force to liberate me
from virtual time’s clutch.
I go as asked to fetch leashes
hanging in the garage.
The sparrow sails.
The dogs whine with joy:
I’ve chosen to look
beyond this path.

III.
Coyotes howl near
lavender bushes,
so close that I think
they are coming for me
or the people I love.
Clockwatching, I smell
my pillow and dream up
old tunes in the dark.
Come morning, I’ll free
a hungry bird, then go
creek-walking with dogs
before this purpose
I hold dissolves.

Dharma doméstico
Por Sherry Cook Stanforth, traducido por Manuel Iris

I

Una gorriona anidó
en una de mis botas de jardinería
escondida en un estante del garaje.
Tres huevos, moteados y brillantes,
son su simple ocupación
—cuando le abro la puerta
al mundo, que queda cortado en rodajas de sombra,
surca el aire, viviendo
sin terror ni aburrimiento,
cada día, un santuario,
cada gusano una razón para cantar.

II

Maestros venerables que ladran
pasan sus patas a lo largo de mi pierna
—fuerza gentil para liberarme
del amago del tiempo virtual.
Voy, como me piden, a buscar las correas
que cuelgan en el garaje.
El gorrión vuela.
Los perros hacen ruidos de alegría:
he elegido mirar
más allá del camino.

III

Los coyotes aúllan cerca
de los arbustos de lavanda,
tan cerca que pienso
que vienen por mí
o por la gente que amo.
Pendiente del reloj, huelo
mi almohada y sueño
melodías antiguas en la oscuridad.
Por la mañana, liberaré
un pájaro hambriento, y luego
iré a caminar por los arroyos
con los perros, antes de que esta voluntad
que tengo ahora
se disuelva.

Sherry Cook Stanforth, director of Thomas More University’s Creative Writing Vision Program,  lives along the river near New Richmond, Ohio. She writes, “A little bird did inspire this poem…as you read my words, she is nurturing her brood in our garage, cradled in a boot, determined to live.”

Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memoirist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2016-March 2018. Pauletta Hansel’s seven poetry collections include Coal Town Photograph and Palindrome, winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry. Her writing has been featured in Rattle, Still: The Journal, The New Verse News, The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and Poetry Daily, among others. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is managing editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

One thought on “Poems by Roberta Schultz and Sherry Cook Stanforth for Postcards from the Pandemic: A Cincinnati Poetry Month Project”

  1. What a thrill it’s been to open my email and see so many outstanding poems each day.  Many of the poems are by poets I know and like and others who are strangers to me but they all are finding a place in my heart and my poetry folder. Thank you so very much, Pauletta and Manuel, for this outstanding project.  It almost made sheltering in place something to appreciate. Karen Jaquish

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