(Because damn, do you have some things to write about.)
I propose a virtual anthology. Social un-distancing through words. Or less succinctly, an invitation to any and all to write it out: write whatever they’re thinking, whatever they care to share.
We’re all doing it anyway, right? Let’s do it together. I figure not much more is needed than a call out, and then the hive mind would figure wout the organizing details. Hell, it even sounds funner that way.
What do you think? Feel free to update, share, publish from here, whatever. I’ll plan on putting up something about this on my blog in a day or two. Then I’ll write a poem. Can you guess what it’ll be about?
Of Late (Robin Reynolds, 3/20/20)
I use my bare hands to move last year’s dry leaves aside,
this one small movement bringing light, space, air.
Underneath, the tiniest sliver of green.
I take care not to touch because
the past few weeks carried
important lessons in its arms
and dropped them on the doorstep.
Life is fragile.
We are clumsy.
Birdwatching is a skill.
I am hopeful as my knuckles sink deep
in sunflower seed.
Filling birdfeeders is practical and gives me
something to do with my hands.
My hands, which of late have begun to flutter,
two lost birds seeking a way home.
The wind jostles them from all sides,
pushing east then south. East again.
They want to fly north.
The difference between safety and slip is not much.
We know this, but still we chase
the solace of certainty, the comfort of the known.
We are being offered life in the midst of death
as across the planet, people dig deeper,
hunker down and squat,
ready to spring into violence at a moment’s notice.
Feed the birds. They are winging
toward safety. Guide them home.
I mind my words, I bind my deeds
when moon goes dark, when circuits bleed
to arc back high, to find my due
through hell bent times, through all I flew;
I find my words, I wind my spool
when moon rains down, when passions rule
to change my course, to richer seas
through will and chance, through words like these.
Some people are crumbling under information they have received about the virus. Others are launching new ways of being, better than before. What will I do? We'll see once I stop with the busy stuff -- establishing the home office, going through the junk I never needed, closing my Airbnb, carrying my files from my office to my home, answering the fucking phone (can we make the phone go away with the virus?), cutting bills for questionable business- related expenses.
Some things I know already though: pollution is down, families are visiting and walking together, driving every damn where is down, the going to the store over and over is down (or is it Alex?), the jumping out of bed at 5 a.m. is gone, the eternal pushing of myself is gone (or on hold?).
My love for others is up, I am in the chute of understanding, my friendships are up, my love of life is up.
Let's do this.
Martha L. King
Wildlife senses the pressures of human interaction lifting
Robins rejoice at fountains bursting forth
New life emerges from nests in fields and finds its way to shelter and food
Plants rejoice and burst forth at the nourishing rain
Ants swarm and differentiate their species
The full moon sparkles and envelopes the earth in its glow
Humans reflect and take inventory of what matters in life
Life finds a way
Hit my step goal every day.
60 pushups every day. Tend to my health, my cleanliness.
You and I both know how easy it would be to fold. We both
know how vital it is we don’t.
Head up. Dignity intact. One more set of pushups.
One more day. And one more day.
My friend told me this morning that she's losing track of time, that she doesn't know how long she's been stuck inside. Doesn't know how much longer it will go on, obviously enough, yet somehow more concerned with that first uncertainty. As if we've already given up hope around our futures, and must instead hold onto scraps of the past. And when memory cracks, as it does under strain, that's all the more despair.
I told her none of that. I just smiled into the web cam and told her it doesn't matter and hang in there and see you on the other side.
B.C. Bennett 3-22-20
Sleepwalking (Robin Reynolds, 3/22/20)
They say I used to sleepwalk.
Throughout my childhood,
I rose at odd hours,
took to my bare feet,
fled through the kitchen door
and into the moonlight.
I don’t remember it,
but I understand it.
What I wanted then
was a mother who was sober,
if not all of the time, then at least
some of the time.
I wanted to curl
into soft blankets
and wake to the smell
of pancakes and quiet in the house.
I wanted a cool glass of water
on a clean white tablecloth.
It was not to be.
Until these days of quarantine and face masks,
I had forgotten about my need
It was buried deeply in
the fine sifted soil of university,
covered over in the frail gauze
I found safety in distance –
social and otherwise.
This city encircled in mountains
is 1600 miles from that kitchen door.
and I am still not sure if it is far enough.
I can hear that little girl’s voice.
She hisses like a teapot gone to boil,
high pitched and impossible to ignore.
She cries and I try to soothe her
but she knows better.
She knows that my solution is always
to sleepwalk my way through it
and she knows that this is not an answer.
She wants to be held by someone stronger than her.
// Baking Bread (Robin Reynolds, 3/23/20)
On a whim, I decide to bake bread.
It’s not that I actually have the time –
I can hear the blat and bleep
of remote meetings and emails
calling to me as I stand in the kitchen
absentmindedly searching my cupboards.
Flour, yeast, sugar, oil.
Basic ingredients but miraculous
to find them quietly waiting.
When was the last time I baked bread?
I remember vaguely that on bread baking day,
there was always the certainty that
at least one good thing has been accomplished
and I reach for that.
I measure and mix,
hold the slack weight of it in both hands.
Each movement takes me further from today
and closer to you.
Like that time you put your head into my lap
and cried. I think we both knew then
that nothing could save you.
It was quiet knowledge,
splintered and sure in our hearts,
but never once spoken aloud.
Ah. I see the connection.
It was that day you came beaming through
my kitchen door cradling a bread machine
in your arms.
You’d gotten it at a yard sale for $3
and brought it to me straightaway.
So I could spend less time in the kitchen, you said.
I wanted to love it,
but it allowed no space for sinking
knuckles deep into reverie,
pounding worry and frustration into something so useful
and so solid as sandwiches and toast.
There was an empty hole at the end of each loaf
that couldn’t be ignored
so I returned to folding and kneading on a floured board.
I left the bread machine on the counter so that
every time you came in the door you smiled.
For me, that was enough good for one day.
Turn fool, fool turn
slow your roll and feel the burn.
Take it slow and burn the bridge
rock the boat and raid the fridge.
I miss your mind, you missed the turn
got left behind, you got burned.
Took it wrong, bridged no gaps
lost no time until relapse.
(Pat W - 3/25/2020)
Reflections During the Corona Quiet
• Spending more time with your spouse is not always a good thing. Spending more time with yourself and your pets is.
• The flowers and trees have always bloomed this time of year, but because of a hurried life away from home, I haven’t noticed. They are so lovely!
• I’m enjoying preparing food and using some of the culinary skills I acquired in cooking classes. Cleaning up is still a drag, but my husband does help with this. I’m eating healthier than ever because of access to freshly prepared food.
• While I’m moving less working from home, I am making a concerted effort to walk each day and to do exercises at my desk. Score!
• My goat, Millie, thinks I’m her playmate, now that I’m spending more time at home, I visit her more often, which means she enjoys trying to raise up and head butt me, a behavior she practices with her caprine friends. I don’t appreciate that kind of play and she doesn’t understand why …after all, she’s inviting me into her world, and not the other way around.
• Everything that seemed urgent at work doesn’t seem so urgent when working from home. It’s not that I’m getting less done, but that I’m doing it with far less stress. In fact, I’ve discovered that other than a paycheck, work doesn’t have much to recommend it.
• I’m finding that, like my youngest son believes, money isn’t everything, and that a simple, self-sufficient life would be just fine without the clammer.
• Baby chicks grow so fast. They are a reminder that life is fleeting, and we better get our feathers together before launching into the rest of the world.
• I am an extreme introvert. I could go days without talking to too many people. I’m finding this “lockdown” to be tremendously enjoyable and refreshing. That’s a key data point when considering which direction I’d like to take my career.
• Dandelions are pretty, and they’re useful in healing as well. Why do we pluck, spray, and exterminate them so vigorously?
I realized yesterday that I’d stopped journaling three momentous weeks ago. Not only was I not writing, I didn’t even realize I wasn’t writing.
April was a blur of terror pasted over
with false courage and hollow laughter.
The high-pitched nervous giggle
of dentist chairs, executioner hoods,
and divorce proceedings rises into the dangerous air,
invisible and unhinged.
Midway through the month, a cold snap
indiscriminately crushes every bud and bloom
that had dared to rise in my garden
holding up hope like a hand painted picket sign.
Smoke tree, sage, grapevine, kale, quince, beebalm,
lavender, iris, lily. People. The people were dying.
I stand in the morning air, my tears icy and slipping
into the collar of a February jacket.
I can’t tell you why I am crying.
Is it the garden? Loneliness?
Perhaps it’s the fleets of refrigerated trucks
idling in parking lots and gravel shoulders of roads
all over this country waiting to carry away the dead.
People are dying and the only thing I can think to do
is to water these plants, bless a crumbling leaf
by holding it lightly in the palm of my hand,
the breeze rocking it ever so slightly,
speaking the truth with false confidence -
Things may look bleak but sunshine will greet us soon.
The house sparrow will balance on a branch,
drawing my eye to the smallest green slash,
folded tight and gathering strength.
It is preparing to enter this world with the same unbridled hope
that we all hold in our hearts.
That we will get the chance to exist briefly and turn our face up to the sun.
5/2/20, Robin Reynolds
Alive and dire, alive like fire
Sharing plans beyond the pyre
5/3/2020 anno horriblis
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom
from In Memory of W. B. Yeats W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973
Freedom is the crux, isn’t it,
the one thing worth living and dying for?
Wander the towns of America,
are you free?
I asked this of a woman in the Dollar Store parking lot
which had been wilting under the sticky Cleveland heat for weeks.
My head was a donut just out of the fryer.
She briefly looked my direction as she gathered small children
set them right in the cart, tied a shoe, and patted her purse.
Her hair needed a wash.
With a heave, she drove the cart, rusty and listing to the right,
up the ramp. The door opened out
and I watched as she maneuvered through
with a hard twist of her shoulder and a two-wristed shove.
But what I want to know, ma’am, is
are you free?
She turned on me then,
a hard light in her eye.
Free. The sound she made wasn’t a laugh
or a cry.
It was millions of years
of trying to feed families with not enough vegetables
or meat. It echoed with the resolve to save beloved children
from war and failing.
It was blood and spit, looking your enemy right in the eye.
It rang with the hammer beat of labor camps and slow seep
of gas oven deaths.
Without a word, her voice spoke of children who aren’t safe
even in their own homes,
held all the too-early death moments of the falsely accused
and unjustly persecuted.
It sang from a hymnal
clutched in bloody hands.
Baskets of money, choir boys forever changed, televangelists.
It shouted different skin is bad and I will kill you for that.
Her voice was heavy smoke, rising right there in the aisle
between the Pringles and five dollar frying pans,
and it threatened to burn the place down.
And then it was gone and in its place, a soft resolve.
She patted a startled child on the head, smoothed his sticky hair.
We have never been free.
6/23/20 Robin Reynolds