Poetry Friday friends, do you remember the early days of the pandemic, when toilet paper was scarce? I remember sitting in the bathroom crying (everything made me cry at the beginning of the pandemic) as I counted squares, rationing TP against the potential disaster.
I had to laugh when I saw that my friend Pat Valdata wrote a poem about the toilet paper shortage. You may remember Pat’s book on women in avaiation, Where No Man Can Touch and the cool concrete poem (shaped like a parachute!) I shared in a 2017 PF post.
Before we get to the toilet paper poem, I wonder how the pandemic has shown up in your writing? Many people have been struggling with the focus it takes to write. Others have turned to daily diaries, recording the historical global event that we are all living through.
Covid has been on my mind too. I took some old notes — jotted down after a nightmare in 2018 — and turned them into a pandemic-themed poem that’s now out on submission. And an old poem of mine about the mythological Danae (one of Zeus’s conquests) transformed into the voice of a woman quarantined and sick with Covid-19.
That poem, “Danae Addresses Covid-19”, and Pat’s “Elegy for Toilet Paper,” appear in a new anthology, BAY TO OCEAN 2020: The Year’s Best Writing from the Eastern Shore Writers Association. I’m giving away two copies of this wonderful anthology, edited by Emily Rich and Tara Elliott. Leave a note in the comments if you’d like a chance to win. I’ll pull names randomly and will announce winners next week, when I host Poetry Friday.
ESWA also runs a wonderful writers’ conference — fully online this year. You can learn more about it here.
Now to the pandemic poems!
Does the shape of “Elegy for Toilet Paper” remind you of anything?
Elegy for Toilet Paper
By Pat Valdata
You spanned the shelves
in plastic bundles: one-
ply, two-ply, bonus extra
jumbo rolls. Sometimes you
were recycled, a tad scratchy,
other times you were so soft
you were almost useless. Yet
we counted you a necessity,
light-years better than leaves,
corncobs (how did that work,
anyway?), pages torn from
the old Montgomery Ward
catalog. In the outhouse, your
tube a cozy spot for spiders.
You came in handy when we
ran out of Kleenex, or when
we needed to wipe splotched
eyeliner or a blob of Clearasil.
When the curse came early,
thick folds of you bought us
time to run to the drugstore.
Nowadays, dear absent friends,
forward thinkers, thinking aft,
who installed upscale bidets
sit smug and clean. The rest
of us count every precious
square to see just how much
we can get away with.
From BAY TO OCEAN 2020: The Year’s Best Writing from the Eastern Shore Writers Association. Published with permission of the author.
DANAE ADDRESSES COVID-19
By Laura Shovan
There were days before my father-king
ordered me to shelter in this chamber,
when I sat all morning on the harbor wall.
It was not the ships nor their sails
which drew my gaze, but the way light fell —
almost solid — and broke the water’s surface.
I remember the sun had muscle,
gold as the shoulders of a swimmer.
This I conceived long ago. Enter
if you must, god of fevers. Bring to me
the morning light, that first rush
of heat rubbing my eyelids open.
From BAY TO OCEAN 2020: The Year’s Best Writing from the Eastern Shore Writers Association.
Both Pat and I were nominated for Pushcart Prizes for our work in this anthology. Pat for a punch-to-the-gut poem titled, “I Post Another Sunset on Facebook,” and me for “Danae Addresses Covid-19.” What an honor!
Remember to raise your hand if you’d like to be in the drawing for your very own copy of BAY TO OCEAN 2020.
Poetry Friday is here next week. I’ll be announcing the theme for the 2021 February Poetry Project! See you then.