12/22/20 Workshop – A Poem by Hilda Morley

Winter Solstice by Hilda Morley

 A cold night crosses

our path

The world appears

very large, very

round now       extending

far as the moon does

It is from

the moon this cold travels

It is

the light of the moon that causes

this night reflecting distance in its own

light so coldly

(from one side of

the earth to the other)

It is the length of this coldness

It is the long distance

between two points which are

not in a line        now

not a

straightness       (however

straight) but a curve only,

silver that is a rock reflecting

not metal

but a rock accepting


(a scream in silence

where between the two

points what touches

is a curve around the world

(the dance unmoving).

new york, 1969

Reflective writing prompt: Write about the light of the moon.


12/15/20 Workshop – A Poem by Wislawa Symborska

Life While-You-Wait by Wislawa Symborska

Life While-You-Wait.

Performance without rehearsal.

Body without alterations.

Head without premeditation.


I know nothing of the role I play.

I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.


I have to guess on the spot

just what this play’s all about.


Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,

I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.

I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.

I trip at every step over my own ignorance.

I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.

My instincts are for happy histrionics.

Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliates me more. Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.


Words and impulses you can’t take back,

stars you’ll never get counted,

your character like a raincoat you button on the run —

the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.


If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,

or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!

But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.

Is it fair, I ask

(my voice a little hoarse, since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).


You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.

I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.

The props are surprisingly precise.

The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer. The farthest galaxies have been turned on.

Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.

And whatever I do

will become forever what I’ve done.


Reflective writing prompt: Write about waiting, or, Write about a time you had to improvise