Signs by Cathleen Cohen


This year we lost an oak
to illness that withered the grasses,
leeched sap from trunks in amber drops
until the yard was bleached of green,
deep sienna and crimson

like lifeblood. Lantern flies feast,
wilt the willow our neighbors planted
when their daughter was born.
And we’ve had storms, dark,
out of season, changing

how we watch the sky
for signs. All this freedom
was given, choices
in how to live.
Is landscape enacting

old stories, old lessons
that we’ve forgotten—
plagues, storming waters,
viruses, emerald borers
in the ash trees?

Our neighbors wrap willow branches
with nets and tape
to trap swarming nymphs.
So fragile. We must rush
to help them.

by Cathleen Cohen

Instagram: @cathleencohen8
Twitter: @CathleenCohen

Editor’s Note: This poem’s clear imagery is a perfect metaphor for the world’s grim uncertainty, yet still the last few lines remind us how to be human despite our misgivings.