A Calmer Position

By Joanne Tarlin | September 22, 2020

I live by the sea. The Internet offers access to world news, weather, information, and disinformation. During these past six months, like a boat tied to a buoy, I was tied to the news cycle bopping up and down with each horrifying and occasionally hopeful wave of information. I’ve found casting off and floating on my own stream of observations, I can look up from a calmer position and see a more manageable and regenerative reality, one in which it’s okay to appreciate the caress of a soft breeze and delight in a bird song. I created this poem and these paintings to share this view.

A Mourning View

There’s a dead branch on a juniper bush along the edge of the sea,

above the shale gray rocks that at low tide,

the golden green sea weeds collapse upon.


As I drink my hot coffee and look west,

the low morning sunlight rises above the tops of the trees, and

shimmers across the surface of the sound.


The shadows on Uncle Zeeks’s island darken in contrast with the illuminated tips of the firs.

Gulls noisily hunt for clams. A lucky one takes a shell in its bill, rises and drops the clam on the rocks.

It does this again until, success. Breakfast.


I look at my tablet, take a sip of coffee, and read:

“…the virus is in the air…deaths from the pandemic rise…”

“…smoke from fires in the west have reached the Atlantic…”

“…birds are falling from the sky in vast numbers.”


My coffee is cold.

I look up and out my window.

A lone small wren alights on the dead branch and trills.


“Falling 1,” watercolor on paper, 14″x 11″ (2020)


“Falling 2,” oil on paper, 14″x 11″ (2020)


“Falling 3,” oil on paper, 14″x 11″ (2020)



“Falling 4,” oil on paper, 16″x 12″ (2020)


“Falling 5,” oil on paper, 16″x 12″ (2020)

“Falling 5,” oil on paper, 16″x 12″ (2020)

Copyright © 2020 Joanne Tarln
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