Safe Distance

by Cathleen Cohen

We kneel yards apart,
my granddaughter and I,
pulling weeds.

She names each leaf  
in her lap, leaf
on the pile, leaf.

Delighted by sound, she offers
this feast to her doll and to me, guests
at her table, this wide green lawn.

Noting birds riding wind, she cries red!
Red bird, Cardinal, I expand,
feathering her nest of words.

Nearby her brother studies anthills,
intrigued by their patient construction.
He’s building his own den of pebbles and sticks.

Quick! The children crawl under hedges
that bend to embrace them.
As I can’t.

Six feet of love.
They lift arms for kisses
I can’t give them.

We mime air hugs, gestures
towards each other, towards
the wind and voyaging clouds.

But as we return
to where their watchful mother stands,
they grab my fingers.      

Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. A painter and teacher, she founded the We the Poets program at ArtWell, an arts education non-profit in Philadelphia. Her poems appear in Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, East Coast Ink, North of Oxford, Passager, Philadelphia Stories, Rockvale Review, Rogue Agent, Camera Obscura (Moonstone Press, 2017) and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press, forthcoming 2021). She received the Interfaith Relations Award from the Montgomery County PA Human Rights Commission and the Public Service Award from National Association of Poetry Therapy. Her artwork is on view at Cerulean Arts Gallery. The art that accompanies this poem is her own.


One thought on “Safe Distance

  1. Dear Cathy…What a gift it is to read your poetry! I can envision your joy as your grandchildren surround you…engrossed in the nature that delights all of you. Your art enhances your words. I am so appreciative!
    Thank you….Esther


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