Poet’s Corner: Then and Now, Opportunity and Impudence, Bones – Time’s Perspective

Here’s the latest installment of Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group

Then and Now

The blizzard swept in when I was 8 years old, covering streets and sidewalks and paralyzing the city

Snow was deep and overwhelming and beautiful

We could hardly wait to play in this inviting sugar white world

Along with boots and mittens and sleds came “Be careful. The ice is slippery underneath”

By afternoon the kids had built battle ready snow forts and the games began

Fallen snow warriors hollered “no fair” as blows landed on faces and necks and they stomped home for comfort

Until the next battle

My dad placed two paint splattered wood saw horses tied with red cloths in the street below our house to alert drivers that we were sledding down the hill

I watched older kids ski down the hill in front of my house

They were so cool

I wanted to soar across the ground like that

We stared at cars as their drivers tried to drive up the hill and stopped

And held our breath as they slowly slid backward to the bottom

We scrambled on sleds to slide down the hill – and pulled them back up to slide down again and again

When snow turned to ice in the late afternoon, sleds slid into snow piles, curbs and each other

When our hands and feet and noses became too cold, we trooped inside to warm up with fresh socks and hot chocolate

Celebrating the warmth

Watching out the window for the next round of play, we cheered as more snow fell and talked of cancelled school and faster sleds

Gretchen Murphy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Who knew?

Who knew that this would be the only blizzard I would ever experience

That 50 years later, everything would be so different, the earth’s climate itself would start changing

That ice – such an ordinary part of daily life

Cubes small and large, in cold drinks and freezers

Foundations for the snow on the mountains inviting skiers, snow boarders, and more

Freezing winter lakes, drawing skaters and ice fisherman

So vast on mountain glaciers across the earth, described in my grade school geography books

So permanent in the world of an 8 year old

Would begin to melt, changing the world around us

Polar bears who hunt from floating ice glaciers are starving

Penguin populations who live and breed on ice are disappearing

Snow leopards and artic foxes struggle to find food

Ice from mountain glaciers melts into streams and rivers overwhelming the lands below

Solutions are elusive and divided beliefs drive people apart

Some say “we must do something”

Others say “this is just the ebb and flow of nature”

And children say to the world’s leaders “you are stealing our future”

Who knew?

Gretchen Murphy


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Opportunity and impudence

I watch the bird feeder in my neighbor’s yard

Resembling a castle tower with many windows, attached to a slim pole, it hangs about 4 feet above the ground

Delicate openings attract the little birds

Finches and sparrows perch at the openings, their heads darting in and around the feeder windows

They dance to the side when the sky blue jays arrive with their noisy voices and aggressive style

Who, in turn, are run off by the swooping crows

Black, sleek and commanding, they turn sideways to get the best access

The pecking order in play

And the cat watches from the corner of the deck

Seeking an opportunity that doesn’t come

Soon ingenuity and speed arrive with new visitors on four short legs

They hover on nearby branches and bide their time

Comparing notes with their chatter

Playing with each other until the coast is clear and the birds, large and small, take flying breaks

They jump, landing on each other, picariously clinging to the steel swinging handle

Confidently leaping to the hanging house

Happy to hang up-side down and double up

Tails waving like banners

Acting out their ubiquitous claim to available booty

The intrepid, comedic, resourceful squirrel

                                                                                                            Gretchen Murphy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bones  – Time’s Perspective

Young bones, tender framework

Powering short limbs in all directions

Rolling, tumbling, reaching, grasping

Too soon crawling, staggering, walking

Loving beginnings


Strong bones running effortlessly,

Chasing, seeking, joining in play

Learning to race, first with Dad, then playmates

Soon pounding down fields

Discovering teams


Sturdy bones, carrying backpacks

Jogging for the bus

Tackling hikes and beach walks,

Mountain biking and camping

Gathering wood


Secure anchor bones, holding babies and carrying toddlers

Guiding new riders to launch a two wheeler

Now playing pick-up softball in backyard games

Carrying chairs to soccer fields and blankets to bleachers

Celebrating together


Seasoned bones, slower now

Exercising purposely, maintaining strength

Resolve and determination, warding off

The need to reach for a helping hand or helpful tool

Mourning loss


Emeritus bones, husbanding strength

Grateful each day, moving forward

Welcoming extra support

Narrowing the horizon with grace

At peace

Gretchen Murphy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gretchen Murphy grew up in Ballard. She and her husband, Jack, raised three children in Bothell.  She taught Health Informatics at the University of Washington and retired from the School of Public Health faculty in 2016. She is enjoying retirement and shares summer events with her family at her house on Whidbey. Previously engaged in academic writing projects, she now writes poetry and participates in the EPIC Poetry Group.  “Poetry brings diverse perspectives on how to see the world around us.  I find it very satisfying.”









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