Things to Do to Take Heart

by Jo Taylor

Learn nature’s names—identify columbine 
and catmint, Orion and Taurus. Take note

of the toadstool, the miraculous little fairy cap 
springing up before dawn, burnt-orange, under-gilled 

domes on slender, slick stalks muting their way to light.
Play in the dirt. Plant a garden with cucumbers,

radishes, zucchini, and peas—white acre and purple
hull—for their contrasting soups dueling it out

on winter’s hearth. Wouldn’t hurt to scatter some
flower seeds when you break the ground, too—

nothing like sunflowers and bachelor buttons to dress up
a field in summer. Listen to the swinging spirituals album

gifted by your six-months friend or better yet, hear her 
singing Swing Down Jericho at the surgical center

or Hospice house where she volunteers. Like her,
make the best of every opportunity for doing good—

compliment the Uber driver, the mail carrier,
grocery’s checkout boy or better yet, become an organ

donor and save the life of a seventy-year-old grandfather,
a daddy’s seven-year-old girl. Make a Spiderman 

cake with your grandsons, allowing the mixer to sling 
red and blue cake batter on walls, in hair, in memories. 

Read a poem, write a poem, with the kids and for them, 
but mostly for you. Crank out a churn of vanilla bean

ice cream and invite your neighbor over to celebrate summer
while the sun is warm on your faces and night’s chill is

just a part of conversation. At day’s end, bow your head
in gratitude for the flea and lean into the difficulty
of tomorrow’s turn.

Jo Taylor is a retired, 35-year English teacher from Georgia.  Her favorite genre to teach high school students was poetry, and today she dedicates more time to writing it, her major themes focused on family, place, and faith. She says she writes to give testimony to the past and to her heritage. In 2021 she published her first collection of poems, Strange Fire.  She enjoys walking in early morning, playing with her two grandsons, and collecting and reading cookbooks. 

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