Poetry for Strangers is about finding inspiration in community, in people, in the chance encounters of everyday life. PFS suggests that every person can be a “muse” of a poem. Every week of this year I will ask a stranger for a single word and then write a poem inspired by the word. I invite you to do the same.

Share your poem on this week’s word!


This poem and next week’s poem come from kind strangers my kids and I met at Zoo Boise. Mike and Annie work as volunteers, and they helped us obtain food to feed the goats. One of the goats had an epically impressive beard. Another goat was so calm that it rested its head for several minutes just above my son’s shoulder.

The Stranger: Mike & Annie

The Word: Connection

The poem I wrote:

Upon discovering that he had
an underwater twin almost
as beautiful as he, Narcissus
felt unnourished by the land
and suffocated by air. He wished
he had learned to breathe
in other elements. At night
the twin grew darker and more
lovely; both twins grew jealous.
Their umbilical link tightened
and hummed at their unfair
connection: this mirroring,
this having only one womb
to share, only enough air or water
to breathe in and bellow out
as the other has failed to use.
Both wait by the pond for years,
one gazing into water, the other
into air. Animals pass by: jaguars,
bears, snakes. Nothing eats them
because nothing knows where
one begins and the other ends.
And isn’t this how it goes, peering
into the face of ourselves: afraid
to plunge in, afraid to look away.
If we do nothing, the face below
will only wait with us, sitting as still
as life underwater, waiting for the words,
You get me. You get my animal.

The Challenge: Do you have a poem in you on this word? Write one here.