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!


Over a weekend in Stanley, Idaho (pop. 63) – the home of the Sawtooth Relay and also a wonderful place to write – I got into conversation with a woman who had spent two winters there.

The Stranger: Basya

Her Word: Humble

The poem I wrote:

There are so many ways to get an education. You can stare
down the winter at an empty city, make yourself airtight
for when summer sails in, a quiet ark where people come

in pairs; in the silence you hear them growing young and old.
How humble to be bound by birth, love, and death: the three
stories that wash us clean and join us snug as logs.

A thin-legged man brings a cocktail in plastic to his wife
on the Adirondack chair. They face the lake as the mountain
casts its shadow, aging up toward the sky. A couple arrives,

sixteen years old and carrying their shoes. She is slender,
her hips are just beginning. At the water she hugs herself, cold.
He pats her shoulder, ready to be a husband. And one small

girl in pink practices hopping. Her hat pink, her shorts pink,
her shirt pink, her feet bare. Her mother slings an infant
over a hip. Hop, hop. This girl’s face glimmers like water
in the pink evening. She will be all of us, one day.


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