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Posts Tagged ‘Corona Virus’




I see my old self walking down.
She doesn’t have a mask in her pocket.
She doesn’t move to walk six feet away.
She leans in to hug me, as if it were the most natural,
ordinary thing to do. She looks offended
when I offer her an elbow.
She doesn’t yet know how a virus
will use genome origami to infect and replicate
inside host cells with terrible efficiency. 
She doesn’t know the schools will close
and the stores will close and the streets will close
and the doors will close and it will all happen
in a week. She doesn’t know her daughter
will cry herself to sleep each night for weeks.
She doesn’t know her son will slip
into a darkness and rage she will try to carry.
How the days of her calendar will empty.
How pixilated her life will become.
How the hospital won’t let visitors in .
How she will miss her mother, her father, her friends.
How millions and millions will die. 
And that’s just the health of it.
Part of me wants to tell her what’s coming.
I don’t.
Part of me wants to hug her back,
and I can’t quite explain why I do.
Because innocence.
Because she will be here soon. 

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for Heartbeat, singing together since 1994


Every week we sang, sang blues
and ballads, folk songs,
rounds, pop songs, jazz,
love songs, chants. And we
didn’t just sing, we touched
and hugged, leaned in and loved,
ran our fingers through the waves
of each other’s hair, laughed till we peed,
and jostled and shoved and teased
and offered tissues and kissed cheeks
and brought the shared melodic air
into our bodies and returned it
into the room in currents of ecstatic song.
Oh we sang, how we sang, as if
singing were a life raft that kept us afloat
on the aching broken world.

Now, I sing alone in the kitchen.
Sometimes I’m haunted by the part
I sing—a harmony line unanchored
by the melody. With no tonic,
the tune feels off. There is so much
that’s missing, that’s lost.
Sometimes I make up a new song
and sing about what is here. 
Good morning, hummingbird.
Good morning, loneliness. Good
morning big empty room.
The air holds the notes like shimmering drops
that sometimes leak out of my eyes
when I think of how we sang, the music
a life raft, and your voices, my friends, the oars.

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Beat. Blending. Bolero. Breakaway.

Before bed, my daughter and I

do a word search. The theme:

“Social Dancing.” At the same time

we notice how closely related

Dancing is to Distancing.

 

The hidden words all snuggle

in their thirteen by thirteen square.

Brush. Cha-cha. Foxtrot. Polka.

They cross each other, touch each other,

overlap, congregate, connect.

Rumba. Samba. Slow Dance. Spin.

 

How I miss doing what these letters

are doing—getting lost in a crowd,

then emerging less as a self and

more as a spiral turn, upside down

and backwards, or heck,

showing up as a straightforward sway.

 

Oh I miss that glorious not knowing

where I begin and end, surrounded

by others as we swing, swivel, tango, waltz.

 

 

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We all belong to the same galactic oneness.

—Carlos Santana, Master Class

 

 

I could be the doctor who, overwhelmed

in the ER, went home and killed herself.

I could be the sixteen-year-old boy

who had to cover his father with a white sheet

before the coroner arrived.

I could be the white sheet.

I could be the lawmaker unable to sleep,

or her pillow that hears her cry out in fear

when at last the sleep arrives.

I could be the rhythmic hissing of the ventilator

or the wail of the wife, or the weary hum

of the custodian beneath her mask

as she wipes the surfaces clean.

It could be me, the eleventh death

in the town next door to mine.

It could be me, the one who

unknowingly makes you sick

because I don’t know I carry

something deadly inside my breath.

And so I don’t hug you when I see you

across the post office lobby,

though my heart leaps up to hold you.

Because you could be the flat line

on the EKG.

Because you could be number twelve.

 

 

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Today I take the courage I don’t feel

and the resilience I doubt and

all my unspent longing to serve,

and I bring them, cupped in my hands,

to the garden. They nestle there in my palms

like three baby birds that have not yet

opened their eyes. I take them to hear

the pungent song of the garlic shoots

and the thriving chives who chant

how to survive the winter.

I bring them to hear the strawberry leaves

who sing how to flourish despite the frost.

and the old song of chicken manure

and composted grass that hum about

how old life begets new life.

And they open their tiny beaks,

as if they could eat the green song.

How vulnerable they are.

So I open to the song, too.

I do what must be done.

I take in the nourishing song,

and feed them with my own mouth.

 

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And so I pull the purple comb

through my son’s thick hair,

the same way I’ve seen

the stylists do at Great Clips.

Wet the hair. Comb it through.

Part it. Hold it between

two fingers. Cut vertically. Snip,

and his hair falls to the floor.

Comb it through. Snip. Snip.

 

We both know that I

have no clue what I’m doing.

So we laugh as the hair

piles up on the floor.

We chatter, the way

a stylist and customer would,

talking of school and his friends

and his unruly cowlicks. Snip.

 

I remember that time

I was trapped underwater

by the river’s hydraulics,

how I stared up at the light

shining through the surface

and thought, I don’t think

it’s my time yet to die.

And the river spit me out

and I swam hard as I could

through the rapid toward shore.

 

I don’t think it’s my time yet

to die. Nor my son’s. Though

all around us the news of dying—

the numbers increasing every day,

stories of beloveds who are gone.

 

We ask ourselves, how do we

go on? And meanwhile, we do.

We go on. And because my son’s hair

is too long for his taste,

I learn how to cut it by cutting it.

How much more will we learn

as this goes on? How to share?

How to grieve? How to let go? How to live?

 

And meanwhile, life spits us out

into sunlight, and we come up

spluttering, gasping, surprised

we’re alive, and we swim, what a gift

to find we’re still swimming.

 

 

 

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Tonight I can laugh at the part of me

who thinks she should know

the right thing to do, the right thing to say.

 

Meanwhile, the rest of me

wakes up each morning in wonder,

marveling at the quickly changing world.

 

Every morning this second self practices

how to bathe, how to dress. Even now she is practicing

how to write a poem, how to make breakfast,

 

what to say to her friends, family, herself.

She knows there are so many ways to do it right.

Every moment contains invitations

 

she’s never noticed before. Sometimes

she practices saying nothing at all.

If you see her lingering beside the road,

 

it is because she is practicing how to walk

how to see. She used to know, of course,

but now she can’t seem to take anything

 

for granted, how to drink tea,

how to walk into a room, it’s all new,

how to weep, how to smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Like the giant rock, balancing in the desert

on a slender pillar of sand. Like the way

the full moon seems so much larger

when it first rises. Like how the bluebird,

smaller than my open hand, migrates

up to two-thousand miles in the spring.

 

Every day, the world bewilders me,

as if daring me to believe in other

impossible things. Like how closeness

to death makes us more alive.

Like people all over the world

choosing kindness over chaos.

Like love, that against all odds,

continues to grow.

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Eadem mutata resurgo

Latin motto: Changed, I rise again

 

 

Sometimes in spring

I can still find the dried seeds

of the mountain mahogany

clinging to the ends

of the branches—

feathery golden spirals,

logarithmic and light.

 

How the universe

loves a pattern,

an elegant mathematics—

this same spiral is found

in spider webs, sunflowers,

snail shells, cyclones, the arms

of galaxies, the human ear,

even in the nerves of my cornea

 

that help me to see

the very pattern that

gives me the ability to see.

I want to find the self-similar spiral curve

that informs kindness and strength

as it spreads through a people. I want

to find the equation that calculates

an exponentially growing radius of love.

I want to find the dynamic beauty in us

 

that amplifies as it moves out

with ever increasing speed

from the infinite center.

I want to embody the trustworthy constant

that inspires our species to be better,

want to know the recursive courage that drives us

to thrive in difficult times.

Our potential, endless, yet humble

as last year’s seed in my hand, ready

to be planted, to sprout, to grow.

 

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Hello Friends,

If you were unable to join us live for our April 3, 2020, reading, you can catch me and my friend Albert Flynn DeSilver doing a special online reading … about an hour long total. We each read for 15 minutes at the beginning, then open it up for a discussion based on viewer comments about the role of poetry in our lives right now.

I read exclusively poems written in the last three weeks–all of them found here on A Hundred Falling Veils–all of them speaking to the world we are in right now.

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