I haven’t known what to say.
Listening. Reading. Processing. Not feeling the urge to write or to speak.
Yesterday I have the final of three Zoom poetry classes which I’d enrolled in back in May, back when the Pandemic was the headline, when we yearned to leave our houses but had no reason to because the world was still closed. In the month since, a new headline; this one turns out to be the bigger of the two stories, intrinsically linked to the first.
As I try to conjure that poem, several young men sit in the shade of a tree just outside my front door, on the other side of the property line I share with a church parking lot. They speak of gangs, prison, women, a kidnapping, fatherhood, and of being thirsty. One of them keeps breaking into song. I can’t help but listen as I try to write an epistle ( a poem written in the form of a letter. I didn’t know that word until yesterday). These are the real poets, I think.
On Monday night, a man is shot as he tries to topple a statue of the Spanish Conquistador Oñate in front of the Albuquerque Museum, nine blocks from my house. I hear the helicopters but don’t think too much about them, there have been so many lately. The man survives and the Mayor has the statue removed the next day.
Today it is hot and very smoky because of a fire burning in another state. This reminds me of the next crisis, the mother and father of them all, just around the corner. Actually not around the corner at all but sitting here on my porch with me in the hazy, yellow light. It smells like a camp fire. I water my garden and notice that the snails have eaten all of my peas.
A friend comes over for dinner and we sit outside, six feet apart. We laugh and eat and drink. What is normal any more? This is good. I smear brie on a piece of baguette and sip my margarita like concoction.
My world seems to have shrunk while at the same time my interconnectedness with the macro has become undeniable. Four months ago I flitted about, traveling, working, consuming, but paying little attention to the role I played in my neighbor’s health, to the fact that my airplane emissions contributed greatly to climate change, or to the privilege that allowed such flitting. In the world but not of it. I said I wanted to be more present, but spent much of my time deep in the future, planning and fretting.
And now that fretting has been turned on its head. Had someone knocked on the door on New Year’s Eve, maybe right around the time I finished writing about my word (vibrant) for the coming year and decade, and told me “Oh, by the way, let me tell you about 2020…” I would have stood mouth agape, unable to imagine.
But here we are; waking up to the parts we play within both our micro and macro worlds and to all of the ways those are inextricably linked.
Be the change you want to see in the world.