God, there are many brighter, clearer,
more beautiful pictures of cardinals
on the Internet,Cardinal 3JPG copy
but I meditate on this one
to remind myself
that I could only see it
because I looked out of my window
at my neighbor’s house.

I only ease the headache,
tight band of pain across the chest,
dropped details, snap-at-a-child —
all shelter-in-place symptoms
of my extrovert friend —
with an actual telephone call
my voice next to his cheek,
not a Zoom away.

I meet the afternoon walkers’ anxiety
when I pull up my mask,
while juggling a bag of dog poop.

I, famously humor impaired,
tell a joke in a sermon,
a bad one —
but no worse than a third of the parables.

Bless today’s red feathers, God,
and the jumble
of my pandemic priorities,

because any country, any state,
any month, any date —
“re-opening” is always about my heart.

Maren C. Tirabassi’s most recent book is A Child Laughs: Prayers of Justice and Hope and she blogs at http://giftsinopenands@wordpress.com/ She’s a United Church of Christ, US, pastor and a writer, lover of beagles and genre fiction, inept photographer and comic.

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