No Obligation to Enjoy the Weather                                 by Robert Stewart

Been stranded out in snow before—
stepped lightly on the bare places, hoping
for frozen ground, avoiding slush, wind, 
 
a fir-tree limb speared into the yard.  Today,
a friend calls the office and says look up 
the weather—yellow-ball sun, cartoon-cloud free, 
 
wind 5 mph, and to the left of the flat screen 
a window so blue even the grime clears enough 
it must be, and is, 57 late February, rain 0%.
 
My plans Sunday to read the “Wondrous Love”
essay by Marilynne Robinson stalled by word
of clemency.  Ice returns at sunset, 
 
say forecasters in present tense, so Midwest
conditions reveal a seasonal mix of time present
and snow any moment, as if our technology-mediated 
 
life on this planet, says Robinson, has deprived us 
of the brilliance of a bright sky and more—
think about the smell and companionship
 
of mules and horses, she says; and so I am
thinking my chickens are out scratching
among dry grasses, their feathery butts 
 
raised pointedly, as Robinson and time 
agree, The Bible is terse, the gospels brief . . . 
every moment and detail merits pondering.  
 
I read the day’s instructions: Love 
thy chickens, as they have been given 
a breeze that lifts their down, and I the book.

Robert Stewart’s latest book of poems is Working Class (2018, Stephen F. Austin State Univ.); his latest collection of essays is The Narrow Gate: Writing, Art & Values (2014, Serving House).  For many years, he edited New Letters quarterly, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Guest Editor James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, two full-lengths, and coauthor of four split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

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