Judith Alexander Brice is a retired Pittsburgh psychiatrist whose love of nature and experiences with illness inform much of her work. She has had over 80 poems published in journals and anthologies, including in The Golden Streetcar, Voxpopulisphere.com, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Magnolia Review.com, and Annals of Internal Medicine. On two occasions, Judy has twice received the Editor’s Choice Award in The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize, sponsored by The Paterson Literary Review. Judy has authored two poetry books: Renditions in a Palette and Overhead From Longing published by WordTech Communications (David Robert Books Imprint). A third book, Imbibe The Air is forthcoming next year by the same publisher and your very own, Impspired, is about to publish her chapbook, Shards of Shadows: A COVID Diary within a month or two. Judy’s poem, Mourning Calls, set to music by Tony Manfredonia, can be heard on his web-site: https://www.manfredoniamusic.com/mourning-calls.
I am on the lookout now, a quiet search for sanctuary, a restful place that will save me, rescue me from this plague, the illness all around. It would be right to think of COVID, but more, wrong as well. — I speak of another plague, this pall of thoughts that traps, won’t let us pause, wait for a moment and stop, or hover our mind, for a while—and look, glance at the pampas grass its golden tremolo blowing slow from a breath of breeze, even catch in sight, the sunflowers, their lean and droop— our sentinels, now— early fall. Oh, where the breath, the thoughts, where that friendly gaze— the Other, Her touch, His lone caress? Just now, I’ll seek that purple hibiscus, its thin and papery petals— I’ll search for the yellow rose, its temple-garden and surrounding green-lipped grass, for that comfort of soft— one owl at the watch beside a pillow of rest. 1. - Ekphrasis after Owl, by Vivien Russe. https://vivienrusse.wordpress.com/shift-2011-2/#jp-carousel-12
To My Garden, in Time of COVID-19
Dear Friend, I watch you now in gasp of early throes of Fall, yet I see life around, soundless—a pace laconic, slow— True, you still blaze—glow, this start of autumn, even today, but the world has wavered this year turned far too silent among us all. Your colors have flourished: a kaleidoscope this whole season long— from crocus bud, to golden lily and dazzling purple spires of hosta. You’ve peacocked a panorama, waved your backdrop of Fiddleheads, whispers of Pampas grass, even my delicate Ribbons of Pink, which I’m sure have a better name, but for years, my memory has danced with the hummingbirds— too fast, darted— away. You’ve tugged my eyes, burst a new flower each day from a lifeless stem. And our rusty Monarch flits for hours! Yet this last week, as summer’s close has lowered heat to frost, I think forward, towards bitter months to come— wonder if we’ve seen our final flash of goldfinch or heard the last lone lilt of oriole—its beckon from afar— before frigid, unrepentant months of cold return. I know you’ll be a different garden come this spring, marked by new perennials, some weakened flowers dying off, but even so, distraught questions ache my ambling thoughts: Will the Monarch still flutter from one garden beyond and to the next? And who will be left to think of milkweed, to tend a garden, have the will to plant?