by Terri Kirby Erickson
Though flecks of ice are tap-tapping
at the windows and the ground is frozen over
like a lake in some Northern place
where such things are common, I am lying
in our bed beneath layers of blankets,
my head sinking into a warm pillow. You
have just left the room, closing the door gently
on your way out, thinking I am asleep.
And though there is within me, a deep river
of sadness since my mother’s sudden death,
my father’s long and painful good-bye,
there is a kind of happiness in the present
moment that sorrow cannot drown.
While we slept, no harm found its way to us.
The moon and stars kept vigil all through
the night—until, awakened from our dreams—
we begin the new day with nothing yet
to show for it save the scent of fresh coffee,
flowing like time into a clean cup.
North Carolina native Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry, including A Sun Inside My Chest (Press 53), winner of the 2021 International Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in American Life in Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, JAMA, Poet’s Market, Sport Literate, storySouth, The Christian Century, The Sixty-Four: Best Poets of 2019, The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily and many more. Her awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award. Read her previous poems in Deep South here.