What Matters by Roxanne Bogart

Roxanne E. Bogart is a wildlife biologist and writer, whose poems have appeared in The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Silkworm, and Poetry Quarterly. She is a member of the Straw Dog Writers Guild, the Academy of American Poets, and the Florence Poets Society, and lives in Hampshire County. Roxannebogart.com


What Matters

I never recall the minutes as they pass
only the smile on her face, her hand in mine
the kiss she gives my cheek when we pause
on our walks along the many trails
through forests and meadows.

She sees the bunchgrasses on the river
says they look like capybaras,
mounds of coarse pale brown fur.
She wets her hands on rain-soaked leaves
picks up the red eft in her warm palm
now bigger than mine though she is only eleven.
The air is so cool that the newt,
a tiny ember, does not resist,
barely moves as she lifts it up
for me to see, places it carefully
on a trunk out of the way of
footsteps of other passersby.

Above us a kettle of six vultures
tilt and float higher and higher —
harbingers of patience and insight,
disappear into low clouds, as I think of what
we are called now to do, to not do
every day for others, for ourselves.
The days grow longer as the chill settles still
into the evenings, and forests remain bare.
So much suffering beyond my ability
to heal. So I walk with her, hold her hand
in a time when we can only connect
with others safely through screens and wires.

I am grateful we can still be close
to all the beings that call the natural world
home, reminding me that we are just one part
of nature, all of us vulnerable.
We are not alone.

It is in the caretaking, the sharing,
the loving that we strengthen our hearts.
It is in the daily rituals
that we find hope.
What matters.