A Couple Of Things They Don’t Tell You

Here are a couple of things they don’t tell you about sheltering in place. They don’t tell you how one day will blend into another, how you will have to look at your phone or computer calendar to know exactly what day of the week it is. You might rise earlier to catch the sun coming up or sleep later and wake with a dream chasing you into your day. They don’t tell you when you shelter in place how much you will miss your grown children – the ones you only saw once a week anyway but with the virus senses are heightened and each moment has an urgency to it. It feels like all the love you have must be funneled into this moment in case it passes and the opportunity isn’t here again.

When you shelter in place they don’t tell you how filled with emotion you will be when an ad hoc parade rolls down your street. How hearing horns honking will lift your head from the trowel in your flowerbed. How you will move to the front yard in time to see banners with the names of teachers, proclaiming how much they are loved and missed. Your hand will automatically go up to wave and tears will automatically fall for people you don’t know and for a mascot you don’t recognize but the outpouring of heartfelt sentiment is real and palpable. You see your neighbors, who have also come out onto the street, put their arms around each others shoulders. As the parade disappears everyone lingers, looks in the direction the parade has just gone, holding on to the love just a little longer. With a little wave, or half smile, people slowly walk back to what they were doing. They don’t tell you that when you are sheltering in place you will feel alone even among your neighbors.

Or how spending twenty-four/seven with your husband, the man you love, can feel like a little too much time together. How you have no doubt you want to be together but even in this time of sheltering and craving time with others, you still need time to be alone, to be still with your thoughts, to just breathe.

They don’t tell you how the joy and beauty of seeing your friends on Zoom can quickly swing to heartbreak when you realize how long it has been since you’ve hugged any of them. No one tells you how difficult it is to perform for your friends, cello notes ringing loud and clear… you see their faces but can’t make eye contact, and you see their hands are clapping but you can’t hear the applause. No one tells you when you shelter in place how much you will miss the subtleties of human contact, the shift in posture you read in a conversation, the slight inflections in one’s speech, the things lost with the delay of video links. No one tells you that playing bridge, a game you love, will become just a game. What you really loved was the analysis of the play of the hand afterward, the laughter, the teasing, the small talk. Typing in a chat box doesn’t compare. Nothing can replace the feeling of security and realness of gathering in the same room – even if all you do is smile and let the energy of their being wash over you. I can’t wait to be drenched.

Shadow Lake

The road winds into the distance
rocks, roots, puddles and mud
draw them higher.
Each step one closer to the lodge
built years ago by others
who passed beneath more youthful trees.
Trees that now bend and sway
creak and groan as they lean
to hear conversation below,
chatter to ease the monotony
of the upward stretch.

Clouds twist and tumble
tease with grey and blues swirls,
jackets on and off
in rhythm with their play.

Each stride squashes every day worry.
Layers of adult responsibility shed
as boots splash and smiles spread.
Friends greet each other,
prairie dogs happy to ascend to the alpine,
to explore new territory.
Covered in mud they giggle,
children who play in the rain
because they can.

Thunderstorm

thunderstorm

flash, crash, wake-up Now!
huddle under covers with each strobe of room
power, anger, fear, Boom!
exalted energy bursts of awe
percussion clangs off skyscraper walls
and gives wings to emotions with each sound
overhead whomp, whomp, whomp steps heavy
metal chimes jangle
fast notes tinkle
pica-pica-patta-pica
wind and rain strike a rhythm
tap-tap-rat-a-tat-tat
rumbles echo, bang, rattle, roll,
they swell, ebb, drift away

Blank Page

A page stares blankly up at me.
I curse and rant.
I wave and point my pen.
Yet the paper remains unmoved.

I pace my room.
I look out the window
reciting to this stationary sheet
all that I could be doing.
I could be walking the paths in spring sunshine
with the many other Sunday strollers.
I could be planning tomorrow’s dinner.
I could be,
I could be doing anything but trying to write!

The unmarked note pad
waits patiently,
vacant.

I am irritated by its emotionless state.
So I write.
To shed my emotions.

I want to mar the page!
Deface its untouched, barren territory.
I write forcefully to deny
empty, white space
a place upon my desk!

I spill language
that brings life to feelings
that were masquerading
as restless energy.

Puppeteer

An ornate time piece on a wrist
jeweled
shiny, elegant chrome chronograph
or matte finish
functional
practical, purposeful chronometer

A puppeteer’s handcuff
controlling movement subtly
directing thoughts subliminally
a marionette to be pushed, pulled, directed

Steady tick, tick, tick
hypnotizes
activity done mindlessly
going through motions without attention
glazed eyes
striving to make it from one
paycheque to the next
without breaking the strings of the masterminder
oblivious to the pull
of the masterminder

Second hand sweeps
behind the minute
behind the hour
striving to move ahead
but wired into place
hour leads
minute follows
second lapses
wired into place
pulled along by the others
gears and cogs manipulating movement
invisible strings manipulating movement
time manipulating movement

World focused on clocks and calendars
great energy expended keeping up to the time keepers

Obsession with timepieces
and calendars is restricting
what is this competition that has been thrust upon wrists,
on walls, on clock towers in time squares
town squares

Shirk wrist pieces, cell phones
anything that strives to own your being
Pay no attention to these measurements
these pushes and pulls
prods to direct you

Allow no thoughts of time to settle upon you
consume you
control you
and watch your mind settle
rest
and give birth to new ideas