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Ona Gritz

Ona Gritz’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Bellevue Literary Review, Catamaran Literary Reader, One Art, Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, and many other journals and anthologies. Her books include Geode, a finalist for the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award and Present Imperfect: Essays. Recent honors include two Notable mentions in The Best American Essays, a winning entry in The Poetry Archive Now: Wordview 2020 project, two 2021 pushcart nominations, and a 2022 Best of the Net nomination. Ona’s new middle grade novel, August Or Forever, is forthcoming from Fitzroy Books in February 2023.


Neruda, Still

Neruda is still keeping quiet,
still counting to twelve,
and I’m thinking that it’s now
more than twice that many months
since the virus which, magnified,
looks like flowers from a snowball bush,
sent us all into stillness, onto couches,
onto screens as a way to be
together still. And it was, as he said,
a sudden strangeness, this pausing,
this nowhere to go. Still in
lockdown? Still masked?
How are we still here?
But, in truth, I liked that
hunkering down, elastic
waistbands, the car still
in its carport, my small pod
of husband, son, and two
delighted dogs the only ones
who saw my naked face.
Something stilled inside me then.
Neruda counted to twelve
and twelve again
and I finally took the time
to read him, to hold
his exquisite moment in my hands.

Cursive L

Start with a needle’s eye,
slide down the slim pole,
shoelace loop at lower left
then glide to home.
I barely remember
who I was at P.S. 104,
shy in certain circles,
smallest in my class,
always dreaming myself
elsewhere, which is why
so much is lost.
But one third grade morning
bent over porous paper,
with light blue dotted lines,
I clutched a number two pencil
and made a garland of L’s
like Christmas lights,
or a chain of dolls.
Not even my own intial O
had me writing in the air
as I walked back
to my house for lunch,
conducting a symphony
no one could hear.


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