Author: Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso

There Is No Substitute for You

There is no substitute for you
no one else who knows what you know

Who says “Hello, my dear!” with such enthusiasm 
when I call, reporting that you are just hunky and dory.

There is no voice that sounds like yours
No one else who fusses quite the same way 
when someone tries to touch your hair
No one else with your signature scent of Charlie

There is no one else who can host a hen party like you
No one else with a stockpile of snacks and treats
you’re always willing to share

There is no one else who drove me around 
High Point to see the Christmas lights
and invited me on last minute shopping adventures
always letting me in on important secrets

There is no one else who would bake a 
strawberry birthday cake 
for my imaginary friend

There is no one else who understands 
Nana’s mysterious recipes so well
and makes them as faithfully,  
always offering encouragement 
when I call from my kitchen with questions 

There is no one else who supplied me with 
such wonderful socks for so many years 
that I had to learn, as an adult, how to buy socks

There is no one else who would leave 
her teeth at home 
when we go out to lunch 
and then just order something
that doesn’t require too much chewing. 

There is no one else who loves 
a good recliner like you do
who devours as many novels at the beach,
who loves to watch the kids splash and swim, 
who skunked us all at cornhole.

There is no one else who loves 
banana ice cream like you do,
well, except your sister.

There is no one else who calls her “Faye Marie.”

No one else who rode the 400 miles as soon
as she heard about her sissy’s stroke
and sat with her for weeks on end
and laughed with her at all the nonsense
until she learned to speak again.

There is no one else who reads 
my Facebook posts
and calls my mother 
as quickly as you to discuss
unfolding events.

There is no one else who keeps as close an eye 
on the weather in Virginia 
and calls us with cautionary alerts.

There is no one else I can count on 
to play Words with Friends
in the middle of the night 
so I know when you’re awake
and you ask why I’m awake
and you play risqué words and tell me,
“I bet you didn’t know I knew that word!” 
and I can hear you laugh.

There is no one else I love 
to watch get off the train 
as much as you
when you come to visit.

There is no substitute for you.

For FG
May 23, 1941 – August 13, 2020

I’m not religious, but sometimes I pray

“I’m not religious,”
she told me
“but sometimes I pray.”


“I just tell myself,
you got this
you can do it,”
said another girl.


“I hold onto this gift
I was given during
the darkest time in my life
and it reminds me that
we got out of there,”
explained the third friend.


“If you’ve got any prayers
to spare, we could use them,” he entreated.
“Always,” I replied.


So many ways there are
To send love into the universe
To make known our intentions
To channel our energy and strength
To surround our souls with solace
To seek wisdom from within and without

To pray is to manifest love
or longing

compassion
or
comfort

To release our hearts into the wild

Let us come together today
even as we remain apart
dispatching our prayers
to find each other

Call to Worship
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
August 16, 2020

These four to start

I wish for louder thunder

To muffle the distraction of my unquiet mind

I wish for a king sized bed

So I could snuggle and protect both my children at once

I wish the lonely and insistent cricket in my house

Could be in that faraway field with all his cousins

I wish the vigil that I’m keeping would give meaning to this infinite night

Remembering when I would stand by my parents’ bed and stare at my mother until she woke up, which she always did

Waking up from the worst kind of nightmare

I desperately wanted to wake someone else so they could make it better and remind me that it wasn’t real

Even though I could still feel the tender red mark on my skin where it had gripped me

I wanted someone to hold me and rock me back to sleep

Even though that’s my job now

I considered how each person in my house would react

and what it would mean to share my nightmare with them

Instead I stumbled downstairs

dizzy and sick

settling for the impartial solace of saltines with peanut butter quickly made and quickly eaten

and a glass of cranberry juice

which didn’t make my nightmare go away but the nausea faded

Still sleepy but paranoid that the nightmare will regain full control

I sit with only the light from the kitchen for company

Worth It

What’s beautiful
and enticing
about the woods is 
everything that
isn’t there:

Zoom calls 
group texts
dirty laundry 
to-do lists 
lesson plans
screen time requests
calendars
pans and plates piled in the sink
budgets
bills
bad news

Oh and also
there is clear water
flowing over mossy rocks
unending trees 
unexpected flowers

a tiny toad
a noisy woodpecker
and
my children
laughing

© Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
May 2020