Isolate by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen is the author of over 387 published books including ten books of adult poetry. She has won multiple awards for individual poetry, prose, children’s books and science fiction/fantasy stories, poems, novels. Six colleges have given her honorary doctorates. One of her awards set her good coat on fire.


In this isolate,
if two people,
and one large dog,
can call itself
a hermit’s cell,
I consider my sins.
not commission.
Things left off doing
from fear, or desire
for solemnity,
or mistaking loneliness
for aloneness.

In this isolate,
where we walk each day
in the woods,
hear a barred owl calling,
watch the soar of vultures,
the thrust of skunk cabbage
up from black earth.
Where we step over roots,
remark about old granite
looking like giants
asleep since the glacier
tilled the earth.

In this isolate
where only a mask
and six feet off the path,
keeps us from passing strangers,
we make meals,
break bread together,
talk about the news,
curse the government,

write poetry and prose,
gather in the comfort
of one another’s arms.
In this isolate,
we play at isolation,
considering ourselves
at 80 now safe.
We keep silence in our hearts,
but only those silences
we wish to hear.