Joan Mazza

Inner Light; What do you make; What are you drinking; Not traveling: Joan Mazza

Inner Light

Stephen Covey reminds us we cannot allow
ourselves to be depressed by rain or storms, says,
Carry good weather inside you. We can’t change
what happens to us, can’t influence what others do,
but we can choose how we react. We can choose
our focus. Don’t spit into the wind. You can’t fight
Mother Nature or Father Sun, or the asteroid belt.
In this dark time of division when friends

fight over which Democrat is purest, best, when
they repeat the ways our leader is malignant,
insane, dangerous, in this name-calling time,
let’s safely coalesce, refuse to jump into the fray.
I stay home alone, far from any melee. Agitate
me, press me, poke my soft spots, insult my poems
and sewing, my art and garlicky cuisine, you’ll
find I thrive and shine bright blue. I bioluminesce.

What do you make?

Not money, not a big impression. Not
trouble, not hay or lemonade, not much
of a difference, not the splash I thought
I deserved. I’m not making great art
or poetry, have written nothing that will
still be read decades after I’m dead.

I’m making love to no one, not trying
to make up with those who don’t want
to hear from me, not getting a makeover
or wearing makeup during this time alone
at home. Most days, I make yeast loaves
or quick breads to share. Yesterday,

I made Cuban black beans, portioned them
into six labeled containers to freeze. At my
sewing machine, I make face masks in jazzy
prints, make peace with my past as memories
rise with fabrics’ scents and the motor’s roar.
I’m making purchases online of flour, sugar,

ribbons, thread, books. Plus one disco ball
whose colors pulse to music. I’m not yet dancing.
I’m making time to read, making best use
of this interlude, making up my entertainments
and making sure I will look back on this long
solitude as a time of making something

better of myself than I was before this small
apocalypse, preparing for the big one.
I make poems, journal entries to make sense
of my harmful words and choices, hope
to make my way to a steady balance,
too late to make Honor Roll or history.

What are you drinking?

Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.
—Edith Wharton

In sobriety, I’m fasting, having long given up
White Russians and Long Island Iced Tea, able
to say, No, thank you to a spiked Bloody Mary
on a Sunday morning, no to Chianti with ravioli.
I confess the cravings carry on, especially alone

when thunder tumbles over my house and rain
pours down. Thirty years without a jug of Gallo,
without the easing, warm sensation when ethanol
releases my rigid shoulders. Now I start my days
with black coffee, no sweeteners, no cream

or milk, then switch to green or black tea after noon.
No additives. All the water I care to drink, clean
and unlimited from my kitchen faucet—oh, luxury.
I’m drinking to my wide bed with clean sheets and quilts,
to central heat and air-conditioning, to secure and solid

shelter for two cats and me, to All-Clad cookware
and a deep freezer, to shelves of canned tuna
and artichoke hearts, to black beans and brown rice.
Alone for weeks, I’m drinking in my days, guzzling
weeks and months of quiet solitude, gulping

the scent of spring and earth, fertile after rain. No
one tells me how I’m wrong. I savor isolation’s
flavor, love this reclusive life with the fragrance
of cornbread and rising sourdough, sober and alert
to my mind’s channels, mining unseen gold.

Not Traveling

Empty airports, no lines at ticket desks,
no luggage handlers. Voyagers dream
about lost passports and suitcases, weigh
the risks of bargain prices for cruises,
tours of the old country, museums
that echo footsteps. When the world
will open and return to normal crowding
is a conclusion that changes daily.

While I travel from bedroom to office
to craft room to kitchen, a pedometer
in my jeans pocket counts my steps.
My life isn’t static, isn’t on hold
during this long quarantine. I travel
through inner space, find black holes,
exploding nebula between dying stars.
Between my liver and spleen, one

unexamined artifact from my twenties
when my life’s possibilities stretched
out like branching mountain paths. Inside
this house are the terrains of countries
no one has named, remains of trains,
narrowing tracks, chimneys, pottery rubble,
paintings and broken frescoes. Don’t think
my life is dull. I know where and how to look.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops focused on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her poetry has appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Adanna Literary Journal, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia.