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 the holidays, my husband and I made a pilgrimage to a store in Santa Fe called La Puerta that makes elegant new furniture out of old wooden doors. The founder, Scott, formerly an architect, collected the doors from around the world. Scott showed us his current projects, as well as fat books filled with past projects and drawers filled with supplies (such as snipe hinges, which we didn’t recognize and had to google). A pair of house-dogs wandered with us through the work-rooms. At one point, after we noticed an effigy ladder from the Darien Gap leaning against a corner, my husband and I asked what inspired Scott to become an explorer-collector-furniture designer. Scott began to laugh. “What else are you gonna do?”

The Stranger: Scott

His Word: Organic

The poem I wrote:

Babies wake and kick
in the silence. This may be it,
we say over cream sauce,
potato bread, organic pea
shoots, young but it is too
early for peas. Such meals
we enjoy without urgent
people to make, when our
making days are closed.
We eat as if this is our
last supper, but we know
better than to suffer
through courses then
miss them after the taste
fades. We wave at our younger
selves across the table:
she pitches through the days,
exhausted and knowing
something else, but not this.
Babies kick, shrieking at
the desperate silence;
do they know that once
we wished they’d quicken
up and live so we
could go back to making
something essential?

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