All week I intended to share a poem here. Written six days ago. I lounged on the couch in pajamas pre-dawn last Wednesday, happily anticipating quiet peaceful meditation. Instead, a poem lassoed me. The poem circled its rope from the corner of the living room insisting, “Write me, write me, write me!”
Of course, what do we do when this happens? When a poem lassoes you from your living room on a perfectly ordinary Wednesday? I felt heart-pumping interest and excitement along with “Oh, jeez, here we go again! Will it get me in trouble with everyone who thinks differently? Should I let it have its way?”
Its answer to my own inner frustration about–ahem, certain aspects of our current COVID situation, certain aspects about loved ones thinking differently than me–leaped up off the page like a gazelle. Like a herd of buffalo the poem wrote itself. My mouth hung open in amazement. Wow, Poem, you had a lot to say. Wow, Poem, I somehow feel better now. Wow, Poem, good job. Wow, Poem, I am NOT going to post you on Facebook and somehow try to defend you from snarling opponents all the live-long day.
“I am not posting you on Facebook,” I warned said Poem.
At that moment, all hell broke loose in our Little House in the Woods.
A large thump shook the house. (And I mean a HUGE thump.) Scared the bejeezus out of me. What the heck? I peered at the window. Feathers everywhere. Opened the front door. Blood, feathers, all over the front porch. A partridge lay still, not breathing, dead from impact with our window. Oh dear precious partridge! This heart cried for this senseless death. Alive one moment, gone the next.
Kinda like the poem I just wrote. Some people might take the death of the partridge as a “sign”. I have a history of interpreting signs. Do we all? Two interpretations arose simultaneously, “Well, this means either I better post this poem on Facebook” AND “I better never post this poem anywhere.”
I sent the poem to seven friends via email. One friend declared it a masterpiece; the other said it did “nothing” for her. (Ha ha, don’t you love how life offers every single opinion to a poem that lassoes you from the couch and drags you to the computer? Poor poem. She better develop a stiff upper lip.)
I decided to restart Lake Superior Spirit once again just in case another poem lassoed me. To save the life of innocent partridges. But this morning–all prepared to share the poem with you–another thought appeared.
“The poem is such old news,” I sighed. “If it could have been shared last Wednesday–well, then it was alive. It was alive with passion, intensity, LIFE! Now it feels dead. Like do I even believe it anymore? Last week I believed it totally. Now the herd has rumbled across the prairie and it’s a new dawn and I don’t quite 100% feel this way anymore. Although most of me does.”
Dear reader, I started this blog convinced I would not show the poem with you. I would write instead about what’s alive in the moment, and how that can change every single moment. But every story contains twists and turns. What’s alive now is that the poem keeps insisting. It has a right to express itself. It has a right to wave its flag even in the face of your reluctance. What’s alive here is the STORY of the poem. So here goes, brothers and sisters:
The herd is our brother, too
Oh my beloveds waving flags for herd immunity,
Oh my beloveds singing individual rights,
Oh my beloveds frustrated with COVID 19, cautious governors,
mercurial presidents, the caged walls of your precious home,
monotony of endless days cooped up chattering like chickens over Zoom.
I ask: Who are you willing to sacrifice? Which of the herd shall die?
Your grandmother in assisted living? Your grandpa with diabetes?
Your aunt with digestive woes, your uncle’s feeble heart?
You who praise the immune system, the shining blood cells, the sturdy liver.
You who praise Right Diet and Healthy Jogging. Yoga, Pilates, fresh air.
All ye who eat rice and beans and kale and zucchini shall live.
All ye who supper fish and broccoli and sweet potatoes shall live.
All ye who decry white sugar and white flour and white potatoes shall live.
All ye with stellar willpower and fiery dedication to Right Ways of stalwart body shall live,
Oh my beloveds ye shall live and conquer while COVID sweeps its broom behind you
in city trenches grabbing poor, homeless, congregating church goers,
unhealthy lovers of Oreos, voters, front line nurses and doctors,
the overweight, underweight, frail, sick, elderly: we’ll cull you,
we’ll chop your weeds, disown you, death you, oh you herd,
as precious immunity births like a red flower rising in sidewalk crack.
Get ye to your golf courses, your up north cottages, your hair salons,
Your restaurants, your Central Parks. Get ye to your airplanes, your hobbies,
Your white-collar jobs. Take off your masks.
Pump the economy with the blood of Aunt Mabel
And Cousin Jim, unfortunates. Those without willpower.
Those without the golden egg of how to survive a virus or even common cold.
With questionable death counts because you can’t trust governments, politicians, media,
Scientists, hospitals, or WHO.
You trust herd immunity, and perhaps you’re right. I sigh.
Oh my beloveds, stay safe. I do not want you to die. But the herd is my brother, too.
The herd is our brother, too.