EPIC Poetry Group: Poet’s Corner — Nature’s Gift, I Wish We Could Talk, Isolation

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

Nature’s Gift

The view has been the same for decades

More than 30 years from my backyard deck alone

Wetlands stretch across the valley

Several square miles surrounded by country hillsides

A single road along the north border carries visitors to the beach road

 Skirting the west side

Varied green in grasses short and tall in the summer

Woven browns and golds in the winter months

Waving cattails near the water that winds through the landscape

Flocks of white pelicans, water birds and red tailed hawks provide mellow movement

Redbirds perch on tall stalks and an occasional blue heron rises up from the stream

Effervescent movement is coaxed by winds off the water


Seemingly eternal through the seasons


                                                                    Gretchen Murphy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


 I Wish We Could Talk

“My mind makes promises my body can’t keep”

I heard these words many times as you grew older

With time, I grew to understand them in layers

Now my plans come with lowered expectations

More aches come to visit and park in my shoulders

Long walks became something I used to do

I remember past decades and earlier challenges we faced

My era so unique and yet similar to yours

I watched you embrace your interests and talents

Needle art, antiques, and gardening

Dressage horseback lessons and ballroom dancing

You enthusiastically engaged in each experience

Immersed in the activity of the moment

Coaxing your children to make artificial roses with you

Yet, as time passed, you were able to move beyond each activity with grace

Accepting the losses along the way

You moved beyond Sunday church

Religious rules faded

Less judgement, more acceptance

Grateful for more peace in the Lord, I appreciate the simplicity of your words

“When I wake up in the morning I ask God to take my hand as I walk through the day”

Now, I face similar passages

Saying goodbye to strengths once taken for granted

I wish I had been more aware as I listened back then

With more understanding,

Reflecting on the how’s and whys

Gathering insight and life skills from your experiences

Now, as similar milestones arrive

Now, when wisdom is essential

As my world becomes smaller

Now, as I cast about for life models

I wish I could convey my admiration for the lessons you taught

The memories grow more meaningful and precious

Today, right now, Mom, I wish we could talk

Gretchen  Murphy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~



March was the beginning,

Sheltering at home was a novelty

A freedom from social expectations

Relaxing instead of visiting

Slowing down the days

Reading more

Ordering new books from Amazon

Taking naps

Then, realizing that more energy was available

Satisfying home projects – long undone

Enjoying long phone visits with family and friends

Chuckling about the inability to have my hair done

Becoming a news junkie

Then, slowly, a sense of withdrawing

Becoming detached, less interested in engaging

Thinking about how I used to participate

Thinking how the world can fade away

Noticing how small it becomes

Some days – not bothering….

Losing interest in routines, activities, dinner

Wondering what is actually worth doing

Can I still be useful in isolation?

What is my purpose now?


This week the world is battered and challenged by overwhelming evidence of racism

Horrified, I watched a man die under the knee of a stone-faced, indifferent policeman – another in a long list of black men and women killed by police

But this death ignited a fire of disbelief and rage and despair and resolve

This time the whole country is marching for accountability and change

This protest is marking cities and towns and communities and is ratified world wide

Marchers, all colors and ages, testify to the racism that permeates our society

Racism that stifles opportunities, wastes talent, destroys families, populates our prisons, kills innocents

The power, numbers and energy are continuing day after day

Peaceful marchers are outlasting the small group of destroyers and looters

It generates hope

Maybe this time we will hear truth

Maybe this time we will recognize our role in contributing to inequality, subjugation, fear

Maybe this time there will be change

Maybe this time we will speak up

Isolation generates barriers

But it can’t limit voices

Maybe a new purpose is to find new ways to speak truth

Maybe speaking out for change will help make the world safer for my grandsons


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.”



3 Replies to “EPIC Poetry Group: Poet’s Corner — Nature’s Gift, I Wish We Could Talk, Isolation”

  1. Gretchen, in ‘Nature’s Gift’ you paint a landscape that is always beautiful, yet ever changing — a world view from your back porch that is comforting, especially in this time of disruption and isolation. Your poetry is honest and powerful. Thank you.


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