During quarantine,

Under the spring sky that gusts and grabs the branches,

There are a superfluous twenty seconds hidden within each minute.

It’s there, like a raindrop swells to overflowing.

Ease yourself down to find it, and suddenly,

Almost imperceptibly, there it is.

The minute hand droops by a third, the pace lags, the attention sharpens.

Stacking the dishwasher, a ritual emerges;

Folding laundry, a contemplative art.

Taking the hot mug of coffee in hand, the aroma rising,

The heavy drops polka-dotting puddles out the window,

You can drift a bit.  Not out to daydream, but in, to awakening.

The recompense to quarantine? The longer minute?

An embrace has time to sink in, not rushing off to work.

The smile of a child has time to leave the ground, and wing around the room.

Open the window to smell the rain.

Watch the soap bubble slide down the plate,

Or the cat yawn in slow motion, a tiny sigh at the end.

And your thoughts are strolling languidly now,

Not jumping from rock to rock like a manic crossing a creek in a rising flood.

Who knew we needed time to slow?

The chocolate chip cookie lingers indulgently.

Sunrise, you notice now.

The traffic outside is gone and the house is quiet.

Even in the gloom of a chilly, wet, spring evening

The dogwood was never quite that shocking Barbie pink,

The greenness of the new leaves luminescent.

When we return to the way-things-used-to-be,

Will they still be? Will we want them to?


This poem is about how life slowed down and people became more contemplative during the “stay at home” periods of the pandemic.

About the Artist

Peter Frengel,  Cumberland County
Published:  May 24, 2021