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The Myrtle

The Myrtle

Karen McAferty Morris

The three of them grew up together like cousins,
the pine, live oak, and myrtle, planted in a cluster
filling the sky and shading the path down to the dock
and little bayou, and I loved how the myrtle’s three trunks
rose and leaned out fluttering slender pointed-leaved branches
like someone lifting arms to show the view.

Cut off from gatherings, galleries, restaurants, and shops
during quarantine, we encamped on the back porch
through the mild, breezy weekend afternoons, savoring
good wine and soft blues, observing the birds and changing tides,
discussing current events, reminiscing, making and adjusting
plans, watching the sun set. With just the two of us,
the focus was on each other, like sunlight through a skylight,
a pure brightness. We know we are among the lucky ones.
We won’t be seeing Lake Como this summer after all,
or Copenhagen. Others have lost their lives, livelihoods, still
labor in dangerous circumstances to heal, connect, and nourish.

The myrtle had died slowly over the last few years.
Its blanched, bare branches looked pitiful, an affront
to its former beauty. I finally admitted it was time. In an hour
it was gone, pieces thudding down hard except when prickly
vines threading through its branches into the other trees
made us pull hard, like they were trying to hold on.

The sky was emptier, but the view more open. Lush new
stems were rising thick from the ground near the old trunks,
promises of fragrant blossoms some year, some spring.

A relief, a balm, to think once again we’ll see the myrtle
rise strong, the tree planted on Aphrodite’s temple grounds,
and in Isaiah the one prophesized to replace the briar.

Life in the Time of Corona

Within weeks after March 11, 2020 World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, West Florida Literary Federation offered its writers a catharsis. By April, regional writers were submitting words and images to preserve this time in history. The ongoing project began with Phase I, a special edition of The Legend published in May. It featured more than thirty juried submissions. Life in the Time of Corona continues with Phase II, updated as submissions are accepted. Here are the voices of health care workers, poets, essayists, historians, and the images of artists and photographers, documenting this time in Northwest Florida's history. The ongoing project ends with the advent of a vaccine or declaration by the World Health Organization.

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