Be Still
by Julene Waffle

Let us tear our Towers of Babel down.
Let us sit in the shock and dust of it,
breathing in smoke and ash
until it forms mud in our lungs
and we feel it cake and burn inside.

Let us weep tears of grief and forgiveness.
Let us catch them in broken cups
and drink them until our throats stop burning.
Let us use them to wipe the ash from our eyes
and towel our filthy skin.

If we could only stop talking over
the burning and the breaking
so we could listen
to the moon, the sun, the earth,
each other: all parts of our wholes.
Maybe if we stopped
talking and talking and talking,
we could witness Spring
leaping from the dead mouth of Winter.

PAINTING: Sunrise of Wonder V by John Miller.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I wrote this poem, people in our country seemed so at odds with each other. We were arguing over climate change, elections, the way we treat each other, and so much more. We were all talking and talking and no one was listening. No one was being kind. I wrote this poem out of a feeling that we all needed to be quiet and be thoughtful of others and our world. In that quiet I hope we might be able to find a modicum of understanding so that we can find the ability to plan and work together rather than always fight. We can’t fix anything, especially the environment, if we don’t really listen to each other and start taking action based on that listening.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julene Waffle, a graduate of Hartwick College and Binghamton University, is a teacher in a rural New York State public school, an entrepreneur, a wife, a mother of three boys, two dogs, three cats, and, of course, she is a writer. Her work has appeared in NCTE’s English Journal, La Presa, The Non-Conformist, and Mslexia, among others. She was also published in the anthologies American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery and Seeing Things (2020), and her chapbook So I Will Remember was published in 2020. Visit her at