Hunterdon Poets Workshop: Nancy Noé

Shelter in Place

Everybody giggles, since
Sally and Joe and Robert and Devon
the kid with the Airpods
the boy with bad breath
and everyone else
is pressed in an intimate strata
in ways that they already
hope to forget.

Everybody whispers
and silences phones, because
that is the rule.

Though the closet is dark, the teacher
closes her eyes. She thinks of
the Schoolroom Poets,
what Longfellow, Holmes,
and the rest of the crew
might say to these kids
who’ve grown up with this drill.
She did not.

She remembers the rodent
that crisscrossed the floor
in the middle of the class on
the Plague—how it spread
on the fleas

on the rats

on the ships.

The class shrieked.
She wonders where that mouse is now.
She wonders how long she can stand it.

They wait for the tap that will let them know
it is finally their turn,
they can all come out.

Nancy J. Noé

About the Author

Nancy NoéNancy Noé has been an English professor at Brookdale Community College for 28 years. She provides college application assistance and volunteers as a copy editor for Hippocampus Magazine. She is proud that she attended the same college as Emily Dickinson, though not, as she likes to stress, at the same time.

About the Hunterdon Poets Workshop

“It is necessary to any originality to have the courage to be an amateur.” ~Wallace Stevens

“Imagination is the instrument of compassion.” ~Zbigniew Herbert

The Hunterdon Poets Workshop is a monthly (September-May) Sunday afternoon gathering of published and emerging writers in our community. Our dialogue on poetry crosses generations and cultures, as participants range in age from the early 20s to the mid-90s. Many bring drafts of poems to share or come for a poetry prompt. The workshop size is limited to eight, and members are always thoughtful and encouraging. It’s a privilege for me to help nurture the voices of talented poets and writers in our Workshop.

Vasiliki Katsarou, Instructor