The Answer is No

by Barbara Bald


Lupine by Barbara Bald
Lupine by Barbara Bald

I am supposed to be writing a poem,

doing homework assigned to hone my craft,

but  a sandpiper is having breakfast at the pond.

I watch him tap the pool with pointed black beak,

sip tea-colored water in sunlight.


Spindly legs carry his small brown speckled body

over granite rocks and he tap-dances on crusty lichens.

Among dried grasses and bugleweed, his reflection bobs

on the surface like Narcissus admiring the view.


I cannot ignore him. Refuse to wear blinders

to rippled light, scent of salt-brine in air

or comic bird antics.


I won’t waste another moment doing what I am

told to do, won’t stockpile more losses—

missed mornings, wet kisses or the melody

that sings in my heart.

No one can shame me with belts or words anymore,

their fingers do not point the way to hell.


When the sandpiper spreads delicate wings to the sky,

exposes his vulnerable, underbelly, I will lift with him,

rise into swirling winds where catbirds call

from high berry bushes and the dance of cedar waxwings

becomes my newest poem.


Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant and freelance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies: The Other Side of Sorrow, The Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire, For Loving Precious Beast, Piscataqua Poems, Of Sun and Sand, The Widows’ Handbook and In Gilded Frame Anthology. They have appeared in The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast and in The Poets’ Touchstone. Her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. Her recent full-length book is called Drive-Through Window and her new chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. Barb lives in Alton, NH with her cat Catcher, two Siamese Fighting fish and a tank of Hissing Cockroaches.

One thought on “The Answer is No

  1. Barbara,

    I can still see you sitting in the front row, second seat from the window in Room D1. And I still periodically read aging SHARDS, with momentoes like CAR EIGHTEEN, STRTEET SCENE (cinquain), and STAY (cinquain), a poem that Jerry Rich and I discussed at great length about whether life is cruel or death is cruel (should we have her change the concept, etc.?) I’m proud to look back and see somebody who stuck to her ideals, especially after reading something like THE GOLDFINCH, a trip into the demimonde of this generation.

    Marty Meszaros

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