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On Stephen’s Lawn, a Short Story by Joan Potter

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

For the collection: 'Life in the time of #COVID'.

On Stephen's Lawn - Literary Piece
Photo by Brandon Hoogenboom ~ Unsplash

My son Stephen pulls three chairs onto the grass and wipes them with disinfectant before we settle down. Then he sits on a low stone wall facing us. Since we’re outside in the sun, and more than six feet apart, we decide it’s alright to take off our masks and breathe the warm spring air.

We each arrived separately, even though the four of us – I and my three grown children – live in the same village. I drove over and parked on the street, up the block from Jonathan’s car. Alison walked here; she says she needs the exercise. We meet on the lawn in front of Stephen’s house, a wide grassy area planted with a Japanese maple, a weeping cherry, a bright blue ground cover and yellow daffodils.

My children and I haven’t been together for more than two months. They can’t visit me in the apartment where I live alone for fear of bringing in the virus. I see the two boys – at least their eyes above their masks – when I meet them in the vestibule to pick up supplies they’ve brought me. And Alison and I occasionally take a walk in the park.

But now here we all are. Stephen and his brother trading jokes. Alison smiling with amusement. I lean my head back, close my eyes, feel the sun on my face, and slowly relax, basking in their voices and laughter.


Joan Potter is a writer and teacher whose personal essays have been published in anthologies and literary journals, including Stone Canoe, Longridge Review, JONAH magazine, and Iron Horse Literary Review. She is the author or coauthor of several nonfiction books, including “Still Here Thinking of You: A Second Chance With Our Mothers.” She has taught memoir at writers centers, libraries, and community centers.


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