A stanza from a Jane Hirshfield poem:
A moment knows itself penultimate—
good yet, but only for reckoning up.
Passover, with its nonseder/seder for me, the Zoom version for so many others, has come and gone. We should live and be well, Jews like to say. And by any measure, the creativity and love that has gone into long-distance celebration during corona times, speaks volumes about the collective spirit and will to transcend.
And yet, when time and distance give us perspective on how we coped during the 2020 pandemic, can we ever view it without the specter of that heartless heinous criminal occupying the Oval Office? Not to mention his complicit cronies.
The anger rises, finds me conjuring speeches for Joe Biden. Whatever shape a Democratic convention takes, I imagine Bernie Sanders giving the speech of a lifetime. An impassioned plea for his supporters to follow his lead, vote for Joe Biden. Likewise for Elizabeth Warren.
Could there be a better appeal to party unity? Is a Democratic landslide/sweep asking too much?
I spend what feels like too much time thinking about food, then stress over the logistics of picking it up. Do I have everything I need for at least a few days? I’m not prone to hoarding.
I think about what self-composed creatures we can be.
I think about how that composure so easily shreds when reason gives way to raw nerves. Do we need to be afraid of everything we touch?
Local news story: the 20 something girl with a mother in need of lots of at-home medical care, a father in the grips of COVID-19 at the hospital. The hardest thing for her is not being able to visit him. To touch him. Never getting to say good-bye when he dies.
Another stanza from the same Jane Hirshfield poem:
The moment finds itself weary,
language confuses its ears.
Do we need a new language or at least different ways for expressing a very particular grief? ‘No closure’ when a loved one dies in a hospital, alone, doesn’t quite cut it. I look up synonyms for ‘closure’ in Roget’s Thesaurus (the real deal, on my desk). Dictionary apps cut to the chase, no nuance. Roget’s shows closure in four different contexts: closing, completion, hindrance, joint.
To call this variant of coronavirus ‘novel’ gives it a peculiar stature. How can I help but think of all the stories it has to tell?
Even weeks before the grim reality kicked in, I found myself restless. Online more, a lot of time spent deleting emails, checking in on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. I called it lackluster motivation, a time-in-life moment when I no longer know what it is I’m supposed to be doing. My daughter called it procrastination.
* * *
I stare at the mesmerizing aerial and underwater scenes Apple TV provides as screensavers. I put on music. I am not stoned.
I get a cheap thrill at knowing I can watch Kinky Boots via my PBS app. Even if the reason it’s available is a mixed blessing.
I treat myself to a pretty caftan, a papillon pattern, to wear now, at home. Or whenever. I treat my daughter to a pretty blouse. Because I can.
Because what seems frivolous in dire times really does matter.
The very idea of procrastination to someone always one step ahead of deadlines makes me laugh. Maybe a new way of being has kicked in. Maybe I’m as thankful as I am tired of the “wild patience that has taken me this far.” Maybe this forced hunkering down is a time for shifting gears.
Adrienne Rich speaks to me now more than ever:
Nothing but myself? . . .My selves.
After so long, this answer.
Two stanzas later:
Anger and tenderness: my selves.
And now I can believe they breathe in me
as angels, not polarities.
Anger and tenderness: the spider’s genius
to spin and weave in the same action
from her own body, anywhere—
even from a broken web.
Speaking of webs, my days are off to a much less rattled start when I don’t check in on Facebook or read the news, or even emails. I can even find enough calm presence to sit down and write.
* * *
A windy, cool, almost wintry day for April has me thinking: can a marked shift in weather blow away the virus?
A very dear friend, a gifted artist who also just happens to be gifted in all things culinary and whose perspective on just about anything I value, introduces me to a new word.
Consilience: a coming together of knowledge from widely disparate disciplines, to provide a depth of understanding that would otherwise be unattainable.
Jane Hirshfield, Now Even More:
Now again, even more, I admire Roget,
in whose Thesaurus
self-knowledge appears under Modesty.
Following verecundity-–knowing one’s place;
—April 20, 2020