Anne Whitehouse’s “Signs” & Yi-Wen Huang’s “Quarantine Time” (Oddball Magazine)


by Anne Whitehouse

A brief April snow disrupted our spring.
Amid clumps of snow, daffodils
nodded in the icy breeze. A glaze
of snowflakes sugared the hyacinths.

I worried for them and the tender lettuces,
red and green, I’d only just planted.
But the sun came out; by mid-morning,
the snow was gone as if it hadn’t come.

You’d have to be able to read the signs—
the water drops glistening gaily
on the new leaves, the green moss
wet and velvety, the bushes slick.

Perhaps patience is the key, I thought.
How hard it is to wait out a siege.
The enemy is the invisible virus,
and there is no way out but through.

Once it has passed, we will have to know
where to look to spot the absences
only glaring for those who miss
what has ceased to exist.

Previously published in Oddball Magazine (April 29, 2020).

*Writing Prompt: Write about something that you experienced, that no longer exists, but that affected you strongly. See if you can evoke the effect it had on you by describing it as closely and clearly as you can. What is the significance for you?

Quarantine Time

by Yi-Wen Huang

I just realized
It has been more than two months
and today is the last day of May

I learned to buy two bags of toilet paper, one for backup, like they did during the Depression
Still shocked to think about the first time I saw all of the empty shelves in Walmart
No eggs, no milk, no meat
I remember the last two boxes of spaghetti pasta which someone dropped in a panic and ended
up on a different shelf
I was luckily to be able to get my hands on them

I learned to treasure what I own, this house, my shelter
I finally got time to write
I treated this time like a mini-sabbatical I never thought I would get

Crab Apple and Asian Pear trees bloomed when Spring arrived and then the fuchsia
and white pedals fell to the ground
new green leaves come out on the branches when the summer came

New twigs on my Navajo Willow tree grew and I found a new nest in it
I observed how the nest was built from fallen leaves, dead twigs, and flower pedals
An old nest was found in another Willow tree and I learned the nest was made with old branches
fallen from the tree in the front yard

I got the chance to water my trees and learned about how to take care of them
to smell my trees and know what they smell like and whether they are sick or healthy and
find ladybugs and larvae in the branches hidden among the newly grown twigs and leaves

I got the chance to view a pack of wild horses passing me by
and a spectrum of colorful flowers in the desert
to learn when exactly the sun sets and rises and when exactly the
birds in my yard waking up singing
in the morning

Previously published in Oddball Magazine (July 21, 2020).

* Writing Prompt: What did you always wish to do but never got a chance to until the pandemic?

This issue of The Hard Work of Hope is produced in partnership with Oddball Magazine.

Anne Whitehouse

Anne Whitehouse’s poetry collections include Blessings and Curses, The Refrain, Meteor Shower, and, most recently, Outside from the Inside. She is the author of a novel, Fall Love, and her fiction has appeared widely in literary magazines. Her long poem, Surrealist Muse, about Leonora Carrington, is now a hand-sewn chapbook.. The Imp of the Perverse is her third essay about Edgar Allan Poe, following Poe vs Himself and Poe and Chivers.

Yi-Wen Huang

Dr. Yi-Wen Huang is from Taiwan and an Associate Professor of English and Linguistics at UNM-Gallup, USA. She lived and attended universities in New York and Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on language and affect. Her hobbies include zumba, winter hiking, thrift shopping, edm, and traveling as a foodie and tea aficionado. Her poetry has appeared in such publications as The Blue Nib, Aji, For the Sonorous, NYSAI Press, The Write Connection, and Spire Light: A Journal of Creative Expression.