So how barbaric is it to write poetry during a pandemic? How wrong to suppress a pang of guilt at the thought that there are people dying out there, while I’m fiddling with words? And if I need to keep fiddling to stay sane, should I perhaps hide that discordant, painful music under a bushel?
I keep hearing from friends, family, and the ubiquitous newsfeed in my mailbox that things will get worse before they get better. Things already are unimaginably tragic for so many families around the world. I’m afraid that thinking of worse things yet to come might somehow bring them into being. I must shift my focus or succumb to anguish for my children’s future.
Outside, the birds, the insects, the trees, and the flowers are busy making spring happen. I feel joy and gratitude when I watch them. Their tiniest gestures acquire instant symbolism, becoming a sign of hope, of resilience, of triumph over despair. All around me, nature breathes and sends her messengers to knock on my doors, my windows, my forehead. They all know something I don’t–or have chosen not to acknowledge. Not yet. I must keep watch. Any day now, I’ll find out what nature has been hiding from me. What she’s been telling me all along.
So there it is, my reason for fiddling. I’m trying to bring about spring. It’s the only way I know how.
Thank you to the NaPoWriMo organizers for providing the prompts and the global forum to make our solitary quarantine more bearable–and solidary. The early-bird prompt asked participants to write a poem about their favorite birds. I’ve been observing this couple of lovey-dovey–well, doves–outside my window. This poem is for them–and for anyone else who needs to hear it.
PS–Most of the poems written this April will remain online for up to five days, after which they will be replaced by an excerpt, an erasure, or a thoroughly amateurish art piece that will only allow for bits of the original poem to peek through. At least, this is the plan. The reason being that, at some point, in the hopefully not too distant future, these drafts will undergo revision and begin their multiple-year pilgrimage through the slush piles of many a literary journal. So help me, O Muse.
PPS–Since five days already passed, here’s a somewhat diminished version of the poem, though ‘diminished’ is perhaps the wrong word, because these leaves are on fire!
NOTE: No trees were harmed in the production of this erasure.
Poetry from the trenches–Day 0