Teaching Myself

by Keli Osborn Issue: Fall 2018 Special Issue on Justice

A friend asked what I was doing to save the world, and I said organic bananas. He looked at me as if I were a yellow crescent and asked again what I was doing to save the world, so I said reusable bags and shorter showers. He asked a third time and I offered bus pass, bicycle, hybrid automobile. No, seriously, he sighed, with the deflated sound of a bad inner tube—what are you doing to save the world? Well, I told the remaining air around his shoulders, I write checks to good causes and vote, load scraps in the compost bin, keep a cold house. I said garden and clothesline, library card, my thrift store closet. I piled on smart light bulbs, old computer, locally roasted coffee beans. I thought he was going to lose it. He had cartoon steam ears, stern lips—looked straight into my face and asked once more what I was doing to save the world. Our sky was soft grey, a cool pillow. Juncos, starlings darted about. In the shrubs: a red-breasted finch. I was missing the point, I know, held no key, stood suddenly small. I’m teaching myself to play the ukulele, I told him, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Keli Osborn

Keli Osborn moved more than 20 times among four countries before she turned 18 and rediscovered roots in Eugene, Oregon, where she works with community organizations. A one-time newspaper reporter and former longtime manager in local government, Keli received first prize in the Write to Publish 2016 Pacific Northwest Poetry Contest (Ooligan Press). Her poems have appeared in Timberline Review, Confrontation Literary Magazine, The Fourth River, San Pedro River Review, Elohi Gadugi and other journals—and in several anthologies including Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse and All We Can Hold: Poems of Motherhood.