“Shelter” By Sarah Jane Mulvey


An original work by, Sarah Jane Mulvey
June 2022
Shelter – when used as a noun
Defines a structure
One that covers, offers protection from the elements.
A roof over one’s head, like those stately homes lining County Street.
Or the marvel that is our harbor’s hurricane barrier.
It can also mean a tent that keeps the rain at bay.
Or the doorway of an empty building keeping blankets dry.
At least a car has locks.
We’ve allowed the meaning of shelter- the noun – to stretch quite far.
Shelter – when used as a verb
Means to protect, to keep from danger or harm.
We shelter our loved ones when they need us.
We shelter the vulnerable and infirm.
We shelter children from the cruelties and injustice of the world.
Of course, these are the text book suggestions.
There is room for shelter – the verb – to grow.
Shelter is an action, a driving force.
To protect us from oncoming storms and to face those already raging.
It is caring for our neighbors as we would our loved ones.
It is opening doors and saying yes.
It is making choices so our children
No longer shelter in place
When the cruelties and injustice of this world
Arrive at our doorstep.
Shelter is the work of many hands
Building, creating, dreaming – together.
To create a structure, a community
That offers protection.
From the storms, from hardship.
It is gathering together under that roof
Preserving the vibrant colors,
The rich textures,
And the long and storied history
Of our beautiful home.
This original work was commissioned by DATMA as part of our annual poetry series that launches each exhibition season. Previous works were inspired by Wind, Light, and Water. To connect with Sarah Jane Mulvey, you may visit her website here or attend many of her spoken words events. Sarah Jane Mulvey is a poet, writer and non-profit professional. She is a co-founder of Anomaly Poetry, and host of their open mic nights at the Co-Creative Center in Downtown New Bedford. She also performs her poetry with The Collective NB. Sarah is currently serving as the City of New Bedford’s Poet Laureate. Social media: @sarahmulvz and @anomaly.poetry.
Many of you who have been following DATMA since the beginning knew our Co-Founder, Roger Mandle. It was not known to many that he dedicated a portion of his time to creative writing. Allow us to share the link to his memorial website that his family has created which shares some of his poems. https://www.rogermandle.com/poetry