I was born
From Dick, Jane and Sally
in perfectly pressed clothes,
with clean blonde faces,
obedient dogs,
fluffy cats.
Look! Look, look, look!
Oh, how I looked.
I learned the power of the alphabet from Dick and Jane.

The Borrowers were my comforters.
Arriety, Pod, Homily, and Hendrearry Clock.
Even their names were borrowed, not quite right.
When I lost something,
I knew that they repurposed it in their Under-clock home.
The thimble a coffee cup, the spool a bedside table.
The loss stung less, then.
I learned to say goodbye to things without regret.

Golden Book Encyclopedias were my intellect.
Multi-volumed, shiny, primary-hued covers.
A-Ar, W-Z. Faithful friends.
They never threatened, always informed.
The covers lost their shine with overuse
The coating peeled off like sunburned skin.
I made sure to put them back on the shelf in order
So that I could pull the right volume out when needed.
I learned the power that knowing things offers.

My mother’s Nancy Drew books
fueled my dreams of adventure.
Oh, how I wanted to be Nancy,
Multi-talented, skillfully shifting gears in her little blue roadster
(What does she drive in today’s renditions?)
As she careened down the mountain,
brakes failing.
I’ll bet she didn’t even break a sweat.
And she was always right.
She was superwoman. She could do anything.
Nancy taught me to use my mind,
that risks were worth taking.

My grandmother’s Gene Stratton Porter books
took me to the Indiana swamps—
Freckles, Girl of the Limberlost, Laddie.
Lives in 1910 were so simple, so hard.
Survival was at a premium;
Nature’s beauty and savagery lay just outside your door.
I learned gratitude from Gene Stratton Porter.

I was born from words.
Sentences and paragraphs built me from within
Poetry, biography, adventure, mystery, romance
drew me out into other worlds.
I live there still.


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Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems Copyright © 2021 by Dr. Sarah J. Donovan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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