Visit to a Small Hospital in the Time of COVID-19 by Carol A. Stephen (PRIME MOVERS Series)

A poem to honour the staff of our local Emergency department, who put themselves at risk on a daily basis during this pandemic. The nurse’s name is not her real name, to protect her privacy. But she is very real, warm, friendly, caring- all the things you might need when you are high-risk and in harm’s way. Thank you to the Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital, for always being there. Carol A. Stephen

Silver Birch Press

castaldostudio licensedstephen textPhoto by Castaldo Studio, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have advanced kidney disease, which also causes anemia. I have to monitor my hemoglobin on a regular basis. Last year, an internal bleed sent me to the hospital for almost two months. When I learned two weeks ago that my hemoglobin had dropped very low again, I immediately thought “Here we go again!” But the idea of going anywhere near a hospital right now was frightening too. Usually, they want a referral at the hospital, but this time, thanks to the wonderful nurse who took my urgent call, I was taken right away.  I spent about eight hours there altogether, but it would have been much longer in normal times. The wait is not usually five minutes; it is usually several hours. I cannot thank the staff at the hospital enough for their care, their professionalism, and for…

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A Wander in Roma by Carol A. Stephen (LANDMARKS Series)

My poem at Silver Birch Press today

Silver Birch Press

licensed nerifyA Wander in Roma
by Carol A. Stephen

These soles have sweltered in unforgiving sandals as we wandered
streets of an August Rome, stood outside the Colosseum, paced
patterns on Capitoline Hill, then thankful to ride the street car
from Piazza Venezia to the Spanish Steps. Happy too, for
running shoes from Seoul in a Roman shop, that cushioned bunions
as they complained with every step on St. Peter’s marble floors.

PHOTO: The Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, by Neirfy, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy, climb a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti Church at the top. Designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, the stairway of 135 steps was built in 1723–1725 . (Source: Wikipedia)

Colosseum Rome EditNOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My late husband was a refugee from…

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In a Time of Hidden Faces by Carol A. Stephen (WEARING A MASK Series)

My poem for the Wearing a Mask series on Silver Birch Press.

Silver Birch Press

StephenIn a Time of Hidden Faces
by Carol A. Stephen

This face, my mask of age, slips south
into my neck, wrinkles drawn down by time
and gravity into folds, creases, wattle.
Still, when youth shines forth in my smile, wrinkles
tighten. Years slip away. Or they did—

Now, a different mask, a swath of black cloth
covers dimples, highlights the slight droop
of lower eyelid under my glasses.

Over my shoulder, masks of the past
stare blank-eyed from the wall, and I remember
those days in Venice, that long-ago night in Rome,
the sweetness of a kiss by the Trevi fountain.

Those kissed lips hide now under my new mask, worn
for your safety. I cannot offer you a grin, but
I offer the people of my world my respect,
expressed by this black band across my face.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As we all consider social distancing, and…

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What-or-Who? by Carol A. Stephen (MY FRONT DOOR Series)

My poem What-or-Who? in the Silver Birch Press series My Front Door, appears today on their site. Thank you, Silver Birch Press!

Silver Birch Press

StephenWhat-or-Who?
by Carol A. Stephen

A simple knock at the front door
in a tempo of anybody-home?
segues to an urgency of fist
against steel, a tremor of glass,
an I-know-you’re-in-there! pounding.

I stop halfway down the stairs, curiosity
elbowed away by fear of what-I’ll-find
when I turn the handle, release the lock—
I tiptoe over tiles, slide slowly into
the windowed room beside the door,
turn louvered blinds to crack daylight:
what-or-who is hammering outside?

I see only a cast shadow, someone standing
too close to the door to be seen.
A long-dead-grandmother voice whispers
Never open the door to strangers.

 I tremble behind concealing blinds
in a sweat of what-comes-next
remembering the family rules:

Don’t ever trust other women.
Pretend that you’re not home, and—sssshhh!
Never tell your mother grandma’s secrets.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What-or-Who? was inspired by a childhood memory of my grandmother, who…

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