Seeking Comfort

The old dream returns in its various
permutations. I’m stranded without
my car, must walk an impossible distance.
Or swim. My cat is with me, hindrance
to navigating my way home. Or I’m
looking for my car, which isn’t where
I remember parking. Oh, no! Where is it?

Anxiety dreams, without any source
for anxiety. I’m healthy, well-supplied,
no worries. I’m not going anywhere I don’t
want to go. Blame my chemistry. Although
my mother wasn’t skilled at comforting
words, I’d like to call her, hear about
her cooking, baking, which sick friend

she’s brought food. But she’s been dead
for more than thirty years, is nowhere
with a phone. Foals turn to their mothers
to nurse, long after they can graze, although
the milk is thin, without nutrition. I turn
to spinach with pastina, homemade
cornbread and a cheese omelet unless

I’m fasting, when I turn to books to reread
my favorites with protagonists ready
like good friends. I snuggle with the cat
and read, the comfort of a notebook near.
So many travels between the soft covers
of a novel. No car, no traffic, no fossil fuels.
Those characters never let me down. 


This is the year of the lucky find,
of dipping into books I’ve owned
for decades and discovering new
authors—Lessing and Le Guin. Oh,
the surprise delight of rereading.
In this season of isolation without
end, of ongoing ice and snow,
it’s a time for renewing old pleasures
of reading novels as sleet and rain
hit the windows, or opening
the drapes to let the full moon’s
light illuminate my pillow
to release dreams stuffed there.
Lucky to return to embroidery,
sewing, binding multi-page cards
with saddle stitches, thrilled to have
everything I need, unlike during
that last year of blizzards, a dozen
years ago, when I was trapped
and I ached to drive to Michael’s
and JoAnn’s for supplies. Look
at these shelves and bins with beads,
buttons, ribbons, thread, papers,
paints. Palette knives and brushes,
a book binding kit, in new packages.
I’ll never run out of anything
but time.

*noun. (French) A lucky find.

On a Cold and Rainy April Day

To wake without being woken up
by a radio, alarm or howling cat,
to not startle at sirens or bombs

To turn on lights and heat,
a space heater next to my laptop,
to have a working laptop, WiFi

To stand at a clean sink, clear
water flowing from the tap,
the option to turn it hot or not

To press a button on the coffeepot,
prepared last night, the warming
carafe waiting, filled with hot water

To have the time and mental space
to ponder dreams and what they
mean, to delight in a day without plans

To ponder folding paper for cards,
mentally design variations to try
in a dedicated room with shelves

and tables undisturbed and ready.
This is opulence greater than most
humans have ever known. To do this

every day, without fear, without
invasion by a destructive tyrant. Add
ongoing health, and find true wealth.

An Erratic Education

                My education was the liberty I had to read
                  indiscriminately and all the time, with my
                  eyes hanging out. —Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

As new books arrive, I record the titles
and authors on my list, sort fiction from non
in stacks in my bedroom, move them to my
full library in the finished basement after
reading. I flag pages where phrases
and concepts catch my attention, sometimes
write in the margin, “Poem here.”

When I go back, I can’t unearth the poem
buried there, wonder what sparked
whatever glinted in those little black
marks on paper. On my big bed, books
in progress: poetry, one novel, a short story
collection that won the Pulitzer, several
tomes on crafting fiction with bookmarks

three pages in. In the night, I reach across
to pet them, as I once caressed my cats,
nearly as comforting as my two dogs, paws
held when I slept, one for each hand.

Books don’t growl or bark, will never scratch
or bite. Quiet companions, they offer stories
brimming with generous wisdom,

patient teachers on dark nights, cold days,
while a pot roast simmers and bread rises.

What do you like to read?

                The organized soul has one book beside the bed.
                   The glutton sleeps with a New York skyline lurching
                   an inch from the bed. —Charlotte Gray (b. 1937) British poet.

No longer ashamed of the mess of books
in my bedroom, I revel in opening my eyes
to this wealth that promises hours of pleasure—
vertical and horizontal stacks with instruction
for writing fiction and poetry, slim volumes
of single poets and thick tomes of anthologies.
Rows of novels recommended and selected,
some first in a series of fifteen speculative
tales of other worlds with other cultures.

It’s winter, I rise to this view full of hope,
make coffee, look forward to settling again

in bed amid pillows and quilts, in the luxury
of travel wherever the authors take me,
tracking their paths and turns, noting facts
held back, people exposed slowly, like treats
for a puppy in training. I accomplish few chores,
wag my tail at the word BOOK! Watch me savor
and eat them slowly as I walk across kitchens
or ice fields, gobble details of foreign lives,
turquoise oceans I dive and never get wet.

About the author:

Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her poetry has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, The Comstock Review, Prairie Schooner, Adanna Literary Journal, Slant, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia and writes every day.

Feature image by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash