CAROL ALENA ARONOFF

★ ★ ★ ★

POETRY

What Comes Next

Like origami unfolded, then refolded
slowly into who knows what

or the settling of loose tea leaves in a
porcelain cup, we do not know the future.

When the quarantine is over, will we forget
the blooming cactus on the table near our

makeshift altar, hazy moonlit strolls around
the block when no one’s out? Will we forget

our loneliness, our yearning for each other when
we couldn’t see each other. when the thought

of even touching was enough to think of death?
Will we remember waking with the slow but certain

knowledge we’re alive, we’re still alive! or the simple
joy of slowing down and noticing. We’ve had the time

to notice: fascinating patterns of water spots on faucets,
the chameleon resting on a mango branch outside

our window, all the books we haven’t read, how little
we get by with, how little we really need

Will we recall the days of dread, no roses—nothing
to distract or reassure us that what’s next is somehow

better than the past. No matter, if we relish this next
moment, dance through every tremor, every heartache,

hold steady radiating love—as the world begins to
reassemble, envision all the best life has to offer.

In This Time of Transition

The world as we know it
(though some don’t yet know it)
has come to an end.

Not with a bang or whimper
but a cascade of frivolous,
cynical memes and illusions.

Shadows of what once was hover
above unfilled graves, ghosts
of dying stars and paradigms.

Some carry on as if things will be
the same, return to normal. But there
is no going back; what was normal?

Our rhythms and routines, ruptured,
predictability gone. We’ve been left on
our own in free fall, no ground in view.

Nothing in the material world we’ve
counted on still standing, old beliefs
and habits unreliable; we can’t pretend.

We have entered the bardo of becoming,
transitioning from rusted oil rigs, bloat
and toxic cloudburst to what will serve us

better–or disaster. Trees may fruit more
this year or not, roses may be more fragrant–
or die before they bloom. Death will show

its stygian mask to many, leave traces
like claw marks on an icy window.
Our hearts will be tenderized and broken.

We’ve been drowning in the effluent of callous
excess, poverty of spirit– and poverty, have
lost our connection to what is real.

Yet nature offers us another chance, gives us
rainbows, azure skies. There is holiness in grief.
Remorse can realign us to the sacred.

Now

There are yesterdays that matter
for their rich harvests but most don’t mean
much: a few dead leaves, some too ripe
fruit beginning their turn back to soil.

Yesterday’s tomorrows are unopened seeds,
tomorrow’s yesterdays never happened.
So much time lost in nonexistent places,
too much energy left in the past.

The present seems hard to get to;
it cannot be grasped. A startling sunset,
the brush of lips across your cheek for
just a moment. Was it really even there?

Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist, teacher and writer. Her poetry has been published in Comstock Review, Poetica, Sendero, Buckle&, Asphodel, Tiger ‘s Eye, Cyclamens & Swords, Quill & Parchment, Avocet, Bosque, 200 New Mexico Poems, Women Write  Resistance, Before There is Nowhere to Stand, Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai, et al. She was  twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, participated in Braided Lives, a collaboration of artists/poets, Ekphrasis: Sacred Stories of the Southwest, and (A) Muses Poster Retrospective for the 2014 Taos Fall Arts Festival. Her book, The Nature of Music, was published by Blue Dolphin Publishing in 2005, Cornsilk  in 2006, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, in 2007, Blessings from an Unseen World in 2013 and Dreaming Earth’s Body, in 2015. Currently, she resides in rural Hawaii—working her land, meditating in nature and writing.

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