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
pans and plates piled in the sink
bad news

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

a tiny toad
a noisy woodpecker
my children

© Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
May 2020

Is it still a new day?

You may not even realize
as you step out of your
front door each morning
that you are not the 
same person you were
when you closed the door behind you
the night before

You are freshly washed
having sloughed off
the roughness of yesterday
ruminating on what’s to come
digesting buttered toast and orange juice

Or that was you, before…

What if you’ve now got nowhere to go
this morning

or any morning

what if the only incentive
to get out of bed is
the hug and the kiss 
from a little boy who wants help
pouring milk into his cereal bowl

Is it still a new day
when the only threshold you cross
is the one into your
fluorescent lit kitchen?

Even then, you are more than
you were the day before
you’ve read a chapter
solved a puzzle
listened to someone’s story
made a sandwich 
watched a movie
sung a song
laughed at a joke
cried from despair
said a prayer
and waited for the darkness to come again

Each salty tear
and sleepless hour
has made its mark

Even when you have nowhere to go
you can step outside
and stand in the sun
for having survived
another day

© Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
May 2020

Intimacy vs. Privacy

In this house
I can always tell
who is coming up the stairs
by the weight and velocity of their footfalls

Because of the creaky floors
I know when anyone is walking anywhere
Like a Marauder’s Map in my mind

The thin walls reveal
every conversation
personal noise in the bathroom
keyboard stroke
video game melody
piece of television dialogue
even when all the doors are closed
If I don’t want to hear all the details
of your life
I have to put on music
but then
you will hear
my music

Sometimes I sleep
just to claim some time
by myself
but even then I am not really

There are certainly houses
smaller than ours
but ours is small enough
that there is no privacy
but plenty of intimacy
as I can hear you breathing
and I am thankful that
you are breathing

Origin Story on the Playground

on a wet playground
I witnessed
the origin of a superhero

Created by a
teacher who was
crouched down in the soggy mulch
next to a sobbing child
who was, until that moment,
just an ordinary girl
with a blond ponytail
and purple glasses

Our would-be hero
wearing rainpants
had just careened down
the frictionless slide
and landed hard
on her bottom

A small crowd
of small children
had begun to gather
when the teacher
swooped in

“You didn’t tell me you were a superhero!”
she said to the girl.
“You didn’t tell me you could fly!”

The girl stopped sobbing
and looked questioningly at her teacher

“You must be a superhero because
you flew right off that slide!”

The girl considered this.

“My bottom hurts,” she said.

“Sometimes that happens
when superheroes fly,”
her teacher acknowledged.

“Next time you are going to fly
down the slide,
tell me
and I will be here to help.
Maybe we can make
a big pile of mulch underneath
to make it softer.”

“Or,” said the girl,
“we could put something bouncy there!”

“What a great idea!” said her teacher.
“You are a superhero and you have great ideas!”

And the superhero smiled.

© Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
February 2020

Permanent Marker

I feel like it’s too much to ask
to do all the right things
like floss and wear sunscreen and recycle
and pay bills on time
and not eat too many croissants
and not drive when you could walk
and show up on time

The long list of requirements
weighs on me
like the 10 commandments etched in stone
times 1,000 and strapped
onto my back
as if I am Moses’ sherpa

Yes, I know
I could put down
the freaking tablets
and give my aching shoulders
a rest
but I also know there would be
because that’s how it works

Not to mention the rules
that aren’t even covered
in the 1,000 commandments
like don’t show up to a party empty-handed
and always send a card
and put something in the plate when it’s passed to you

Then there are the Big Rules
(not necessarily covered in the 1,000 commandments)
like raise your children to be good humans
and eat local and organic
and save money instead of spending it on stuff you want


Maybe I’m mixing them up
the order of importance
the gravity
confusing mandatory with
strongly encouraged
or optional

what if I knock all the rules
off the wall
and start over
now they are scattered across the floor
different fonts and colors and sizes
some in ALL CAPS
or bold
or italics
(no consistency whatsoever)
some I don’t even know who wrote them
or where they came from
but they are written
in permanent marker

© Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
February 2020