On Inauguration Day 2017: Poem “Letter to Mrs. Olson”


My friend, artist, poetry lover, and community volunteer Bonnie Jean Flom, recently suggested that today would be the right day to share this poem more widely. Since I always heed Bonnie Jean, here it is. And here’s to the power of friendship, of those small kindnesses that add up to the world we want to inhabit.

Letter to Mrs. Olson

I am a happy wife and must report
my husband makes excellent coffee.
While I didn’t marry him for that skill,
it is a joy to wake to aroma
I have not brewed myself, or over-stewed.

We do not keep Folgers on the shelf but
French-roasted beans in the white freezer,
Grinding them ourselves, gently, a rich few
at a time.  Others also make excellent
coffee.  It is an open secret now.
We know all the fragrant places and drive
out of our way for the best.  Yes, it is

a different world.  Sometimes, I feel jittery.
The future looks dark.  Then I close my eyes,
sip the brew I’m offered from other hands–
deliciously bitter, something unknown
but needed, a cup I could not fill alone.

Leslie Schultz

(I took the image of the flag and chalk board in the school house relocated to Stone Mountain Plantation, Georgia. The image of coffee, table, and chair is from River Rock Coffee in St. Peter, Minnesota.)



P.S. Beth, I’ll be wearing the socks all day, wiping the dishes, and thinking about those holding hands across the Golden Gate Bridge!

Rosie the Rivetter Socks

4 thoughts on “On Inauguration Day 2017: Poem “Letter to Mrs. Olson”

  1. And Saturday I will be joining the Cincinnati piece of the Million Woman March. My dad says he’d be there too if could (in frail health just now)

  2. Thank you for this thought-provoking quotation, Stella. Since last fall, I have had a sign on my kitchen window ledge (from Driftless Book Store in Viroqua, WI) that says in bold white letters on a black ground “ART is the answer.” It has special resonance for me today. I think “art” can encompass all the ways in which we chose to respond with creativity, truth, and kindness and tenderness, even when these efforts do not always appear to be making any difference or even noticed. I often think of a line from a quiet poem by Ted Kooser, “A Jar of Buttons”, about sewing on a button that ends with an affirmation about the importance of making “small but important repairs” and that very much describes my current state of mind.

  3. Oh, thank you for the poem this morning, Leslie. Here is a powerful quotation I found in an article yesterday, a quotation from Stefan Zweig, who fled Nazi Germany:
    “How to stay free? How to preserve our inborn clear-mindedness in front of all the threats and dangers of fanaticism? How to preserve the humanity of our hearts among the upsurge of bestiality?”

    Perhaps the answer, as you have suggested, is poetry and art, and the truths they offer.

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