- After you’ve read this poem, place it
on your kitchen table
- From the top of the poem, fold down a flap of your fear;
from the bottom, a flap of hope.
- Turn this poem over and smooth it tenderly
with the side of your hand. You will
no longer be able to read
this poem. Trust it.
- Feed an elastic hairband over each end of this poem
the way you once gathered the strands
of your daughter’s ponytail.
- Now fold in both ends of the poem
until they overlap like waves
on the bay.
- Turn over the poem and plump
- Secure the elastic hairbands of this poem
around the shells of your ears.
- Wear this poem as if your life
depended on it.
*Note to User:
This poem is not guaranteed to save you or the world.
However, evidence suggests that a poem may help you
get through one more day.
Image: “how to make a paper airplane” by woodleywonderworks, licensed under CC 2.0
Wendy Drexler: I’d been trying to follow the instructions circulating online for how to make a no-sew coronavirus mask. A friend had sent me a video that was quite clear and clever, with soft, relaxing background music, and I loved the origami-like quality of folding a bandana and turning and folding it again and again, and instead of a dove emerging like magic, it was a mask. That gave me the idea of conflating the making of a poem with the actual steps for making the mask. This is probably the first time I’ve written a poem with a game plan, though the poem needed some folding and turning of its own. Underneath the poem may be Jacques Prevert’s wonderful “To Paint the Portrait of a Bird” (“first paint a cage with an open door”). I enjoy the suspension of belief required for a poem like Prevert’s, with its high-wire act of ars poetica and metacognitive wink.
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