Friday, April 9, 2021

Long Hard March

Prescient?: My mom in fur with a cane, Cemetery Walk 2009 

It was a long hard March, and now evidently it’s April, as the poems and flowers prove. On March 6, my mother fell down the (carpeted!) stairs—we hope only 2 or 3 of them—and broke several bones in “non-displaced” ways. That, and the fact that both parents were already fully vaccinated, was the lucky part! She is making a steady and remarkable recovery, with good days and bad days, and great home health care, plus lots of family and local support. Our fragility and resilience continue to amaze me. 

During this time, I participated in an outdoor event on the steps of the history museum, a Remembrance of those lost to Covid-19 in the past year. Candace Summers, Education Director at the McLean County Museum of History, had arranged it, bringing speakers, a singer, young dancers, and me. “I’m no Amanda Gorman,” I had warned her, but I was honored to be asked. My inspiration came from our shared experiences over the last year, plus words from the community, offered in the 12 Months in 6 Words project, and I used many of the shared words, ideas, feelings I found there, creating a poem of 6 stanzas of 6 lines each of 6 words each. (The 666 association was, sadly, not lost on me.) My sister, who had come from Nebraska to help, set it up on her laptop for my parents to watch as it streamed live, and the audience sat or stood in the blocked-off street at safe social distances, bundled against the March chill. Candace had placed 175 small white flags on the museum lawn, one for each of our community’s residents who died; later, updated statistics raised that number to 200+. It was good to come together, safely, solemn and amazed. 

Zooms continued, Passover came, Palm Sunday and Easter, I brought Jessy Randall to Poetry is Normal Presents via Zoom at the library, and I’m offering an annual poem-a-day forum in April, as usual, in an online writing community I visit, but time feels even weirder and more suspended than it already was during this pandemic year, a year now stretching as if into forever, despite the increased availability of testing, treatment, and vaccination. So many of us learned what we value, what we find important, necessary in our lives, and not so necessary. So many of us suffered losses and changes. My thanks to all who are helping each other adjust. My thanks to those helping my family in our time of need, and to those helping you and yours.