Beth Kanell: “Do the Next Right Thing”

Do the Next Right Thing

Between the calendar and the task list, most mornings
I’m chasing paper before my first cup of tea. Or paper
is chasing me—sheets of it rustling, as if a breeze woke
at the sound of my alarm, rising, gusting across the desk

flicking the edges of the note I wrote last night: Plant seeds.
Clean the tub. Buy more oats, milk, butter, life. Wait!
I remind the page, “You can’t buy more life.” The breeze laughs.
Across the room, the calendar rustles in amusement.

I really don’t think it’s funny. I talk back. I argue. My tea
that steamed in its sturdy green mug gives up, chills out,
and a stray tear sneaks down my right cheek. Only one
way to keep love alive: Plant more seeds. Let something

tender, something vulnerable, something miraculous
(none of which could ever describe paper) grow.

About the Author: Beth Kanell lives in northeastern Vermont, with a mountain at her back and a river at her feet. Poet, novelist, historian, and memoirist, she shares her research and writing process at Her novels include This Ardent Flame, The Long Shadow (SPUR Award winner), The Darkness Under the Water, The Secret Room, and Cold Midnight; her short fiction shows up in Lilith and elsewhere; and she takes pleasure in documenting life stories of older Vermonters in features in the North Star Monthly. Look for her memoirs on Medium, and her mystery reviews at the New York Journal of Books.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Small Bloom” (2022)