Quarantine: Clara Barton School. A poem by Julie Martin

Look through tempered glass
windows, down empty hallways
there is not a soul

behind bolted doors
except mice who run rampant
on the search for crumbs.

Echoes of footsteps
taunt from abandoned corners,
loud in their silence.

Portrait on the wall–
only Clara Barton’s gaze
can pierce the shadows.

Namesake of the school,
angel of the battlefield,
see us through this war.


A poet and a public school teacher, Julie Martin lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her husband, sons and dogs.Her poetry has appeared in several online journals, most recently Mothers Always Write, Thimble Literary Magazine, Gravitas, Pasque Petals, Dreamers Creative Writing, Tiny Seed Journal and Tiger Moth Review. She was the 2018 1st place winner of the South Dakota State Poetry Contest, landscape division.


  1. This poem is haunting and gorgeous. As a student studying American poets, essayists and writers it filled the emotional notes in me. The loud silence and the gaze of CB hit me all the way to my makeshift classroom at the dining room table.

    1. Karen,
      Thank you for your comment. I am also a teacher – the emptiness of our schools is eerie.
      I miss the benevolent gaze of CB.

      1. It’s good to call it a “war” as there’s been nothing like it (unfortunately) in our lifetimes. Thanks for your insight!

        1. Thinking about all the joyousness that was always part of that wonderful time. Hard to shine the emptyness of now.

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