“Carrot Ginger” by Lauren Jensen-Deegan

Lauren Jensen-Deegan


I will call her Alice, because her name
is insolent. I will
take my frustration out on the cutting
board, each layer
of shallot peeled, sliced and separated.
I will call her a pathetic
excuse for a co-worker, because her name
is inconsiderate, in
my husband’s face day after day, mask
below her chin, insisting
she is wearing it while breathing on him
who will breathe I love you
upon our daughter who will then breathe
upon Dylan and Maggie
while learning to swim, each labored
stroke to move forward
or at the very least stay afloat 5 seconds
unassisted. Enough.
I will call her a poor example of a human
being, not because
she declines to be vaccinated, but because
she refuses to consider
why 211 million people in America do.
I will call her nothing,
because her name means nothing and
everything to me, empty
pop cans, pennies, as she holds a magnet
up to my husband’s arm
testing to see if it will stick. It means
too much. Too little.
Too far gone. I will call her our tomorrow
because her four children
call her mom and will grow up being taught
there is only one way
to tie your shoes, never knowing, different
versions, recipes, roads
and this terrifies me. That she takes a family
photo in front of a whale
carcass washed up on the beach. That one
day her only son
will ask Santa for a gun and she will wrap it
for him, bow and all, because
this is her right, as well? I’m so tired, so lost
in our dying seas, a fishing net,
this web, closed doors of communication,
lack of a greater good,
sacrifice, offered hand, why not, humanity, it all—
I will call her Alice,
because her name is AJ, Kevin, Andrea, Dave,
the man not wearing
a mask at North Park Market, the neighbor
yelling behind the fence,
and she will never even read these words,
know they exist,
understand how much she has challenged
our family while she
scrolls Facebook for facts and affirmations.
I will call her the antithesis
to every teaspoon of my existence not for
our conflicting views,
but all the nights I spend awake still trying
to place myself in her
steel toe boots, her church, her apartment,
her cubicle where she coughs
each particle, each tiny breath, willful complaint
against the government,
my husband inhaling it all in, second-hand,
internalizing, bringing it
home, because he has no choice except listen.
As I do. Each night,
one shallot at a time, carrot, celery, ginger root,
apple, baring all the sorrow
turned rage within me, my 5-year-old asking
if she can help stir the soup.

from Poets Respond
February 6, 2022


Lauren Jensen-Deegan: “I thought a new year would be a new year, but it feels so much like just another. Last week the Oregon Health Authority began filing to make mask mandates ‘permanent’ in certain sectors rekindling a fire that continues to burn. I’m tired.”

Rattle Logo