—The Prime Minister of the U.K. has appointed a Minister for Loneliness
I know a woman who in widowhood
became enamored of a pet fish,
and a woman, long divorced,
who delights in seven fish,
each in his bowl.
During a time when I lived alone
I would hear a cricket chirping at night.
It fell silent as I passed through the room,
so I knew it knew me. And I grieved
when it no longer sang.
Minister for Loneliness, we have to sing
the angels back, we have to cherish
the creatures, even the smallest,
whose wings make song,
who may be the angels themselves.
Far from any tree or blade of grass
on a street where sparrows
chirped above a storefront
it appeared in my bedroom
We children believed there was
a two hundred dollar fine
for killing a mantis
but who would have hurt it
so green and large and human
so upright and grasping
surely an ambassador
to me in that room
where my mother drew down
the dark green shade
that in summer admitted
pinpoints of light
my first constellations
In the Night
Someone is sitting beside you reciting.
The room must be cold, to hold you
from Friday to Sunday. All night
someone is near you, reading psalms,
as your mother read to you in your bed.
You do not hear. Outside this morning
I heard a bird say keep, keep, keep,
but we cannot keep you, cannot hold you.
You are still but you do not sleep.
Arlene Weiner lives in Pittsburgh. She has been a Shakespeare scholar, a cardiology technician, an editor, a den mother, and a member of a group developing computer applications for education. Her poems have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Pleaides, Poet Lore, and Paterson Literary Review. She held a MacDowell fellowship. Ragged Sky published two collections of her poetry: Escape Velocity (2006) and City Bird (2016). She also writes plays.