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by Sylvia Adams


How many miles to Babylon?
Four score and ten.
Will we get there by candlelight?
Yes, and back again.

                   Old English Nursery Rhyme

We’re all going –
you don’t have to go alone.

We will leave notes on pillows
lock the doors behind us
carry the cat in her basket;

we’ll bring shadows to mask our faces
a book or two and a change of shoes
white gloves and carnations
in case we arrive on a Sunday.
We’ll pack a thermos of chocolate
pitted olives in glass jars
sourdough for bread.
If we’re lucky, someone among us
will turn water into wine.

The children will bring their blankets
the boys with pockets of gerbils;
the girls will harbour cocoons
snug in a collar or hem
and the littlest will have to be carried
on a cushion as if to an altar.

We have only one lantern
and our candles won’t last the journey
so we must stay close together
speak to no one on the road.

We’re all going – you don’t
have to go alone.

We will arrive with butterflies
scented linens and sunlight
rivers will ripple librettos
and the air will dance around us.

We’ll open our eyes to ovations of green
and mothers ready to name us.

* * *

Sylvia Adams is a writing instructor, editor, book reviewer, and the author of a novel, two poetry collections and a children's book. Her work appears in journals and anthologies across North America. A founding member of Canada's Field Stone Poets, she has 12 poems in their 2011 travel collection, Whistle for Jellyfish [BookLand Press, Toronto].

Where do you get the ideas for your poems?

Ideas? I don't get them: they get me. Writing 'got' me when I was nine years old. I'm still saying, "When I grow up I'm going to be a writer."

What inspires you to write and keep writing?

Easier to say what it isn't. It isn't the ability to make a living at it.