Letter to America by Carrie Green

One Poem

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More Questions of Travel, 2020

Oh, must we have our dreams
and dream them, too?
  – Elizabeth Bishop, “Questions of Travel”

All year, no waterfalls or crowded streams.
We have stayed at home and thought of home,
watching ourselves like strangers
on screens. Did we learn to admire
the sunsets unfolding pink curtains
above our own split-level roofs?
To feed and catalog the robins
nesting above doorframes,
the cardinals too bright against dull November days?
To ponder, for hours, the poses of rabbits—
their height and length revealed to us
when they stood on their hind legs
to delicately rub their eyes
or stretched their whole bodies out like cats?
Did they comfort, these creatures uncaged?

Surely it would have been a pity
not to have let the starter
unleash its froth and foam on the counter.
Not to have noted the first crocus
proceed to the last aster.
A pity not to have heard
the traffic noise fade into the sound
of a woodpecker drilling down.
Never to have observed the birch trees
bow beneath ice and, later, unfurl
into green once again. Yes, a pity
not to have added all of these to our feeds.

To distract ourselves from ourselves—
what is this need? Is it too much or too little
imagination that makes us crop out
the sink full of dishes, the empty chip bags
floating at our feet? To avert our gaze
from the tents popping up in our city parks?
To shut our ears to the breath in our own bodies,
to the sound of someone struggling to breathe?




Carrie GreenCarrie Green is the author of Studies of Familiar Birds: Poems (Able Muse Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry NorthwestDIAGRAM, and many other journals. Learn more at

Read four poems by Carrie Green previously published in

Header image by 0fjd125gk87, courtesy Pixabay.

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