It’s been a year-long winter, this period of isolation for many, with seasons blending as one while the world’s population held its collective breath waiting for the passing of the coronavirus. But shelter, by definition, is confining, and cabin fever soon set in. Guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease were ignored, with many gathering, crowded and unmasked.
Those in the know gained their pleasure from the outdoors while maintaining social distancing, fearful, still, that those less wise, the many they encountered as they shopped for necessities, those who were unmasked while ignoring distancing, would bring them into contact with the scourge that had taken millions of lives around the world.
But at last vaccines have been developed, and infection rates are falling as more people obtain them. The storm has not completely passed, but there is hope that this long winter is finally over.
parting clouds sunlight on pink and white cherry blossoms
No embrace will cure these ills.
A distance prescribed by those who know,
scorned by those who cry for freedom
when the freedom they deliver
for some is from this earthly plane,
is the place to start when the end
is masked in uncertainties.
This is my response to Quadrille 121: Let’s Embrace,
the prompt from Merril at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to use
a form of the word embrace in a 44-word poem, with no required meter or rhyme.
Between two points
there lies an understanding
with a principal purpose
Maintaining the proximity
of community through
Respecting my concerns
as I do yours
This was written/created in July 2020 as part of a COVID-19 art anthology/collaboration that failed to materialize. At the time, it voiced my frustration with the public attitude in my area regarding the need for masks as a means to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Six months later, the use of masks in public settings seems to have swung in the opposite direction, but I still see anti-mask stalwarts.
One class, one caste to include everybody.
None are immune here.
This disease that plagues us today is
intent on adding to the infirm.
One class, one caste to include everybody.
None are immune here.
Your failure to recognize this is
sure to take a toll on the infirm.
You say you have survived, but oh,
some are not so quick to mend.
You may scoff at what I say, ridicule me,
but some will never mend.
It could have been you. It may be me.
This does not make you better, a lord.
I read the signs, the news today,
and understand I am one of many, that I
am exposed when you say
you have no need to fear, to
take caution, that you are not one of them.
Despite what you say,
you, too, are of the many. Others act to
protect their fellows, protect them
with no thought to say
they cannot be troubled, to
act as though they care not for them.
For they do, with no thought to lord
it over the many. Their desire to look
out for their fellow man, you and I,
is a sign that you are, that I am,
valued, and that is beautiful.
When the common and the beautiful
are seen as equal and viewed with
compassion, that is when my
true respect for others takes wing.
Our strength rises when that
understanding of equality is
wedded with a desire to spare the wounded.
There should be no “my,”
only “our.” When we see eye to eye,
when we come to realize that
the key to our survival is
best served when the many are bonded,
we will prevail. That, or
suffer the loss of my
sister or your mother, a deaf ear
turned to the grief that will not
serve sentiments funded
towards the consideration of others, or
even ourselves. Your regard for my
well-being should come unbidden. We walk
the same path. A beginning. An end. All
else may differ, but all else is a-wobble.
All is insanity, to think that I’m
insignificant to you, little enough
to trouble your mind, to
mask your pretension of superiority. Be
more than that. Be beautiful.
Let the world see that in you.
Join those who believe that others are
no less than beautiful.
Be one who thinks of others, too.
As a side note, this may be the longest poem I’ve written.
Poetics: travels in the wild, the prompt from Sarah at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, offers seven lines from “Surfacing,” a book of essays exploring the natural world and different histories by Kathleen Jamie, with one of those lines to be used as the title of a poem.
Those lines are:
• Travelling in the wilderness
• She said if a red fox had crossed somewhere, that area was safe
• They say only the south wind flattens grass
• We are teachers to our grandchildren
• Lead dogs are very smart
• Squirrel hunting in the mountains
• A story of when the ice detached and the people floated away
Let’s call my response a stream of consciousness.
A story of when the ice detached
and the people floated away
Fear not, for this is merely a matter of conjecture and prognostication,
one that could come to pass given the habits and tendencies
of people when restrictions are placed upon them,
such as food rationing and curfews meant to restrict movement
that might make them the targets of an enemy during a time of war.
Not that that would ever happen or be willingly accepted
by a populace as a matter of pride in a joint effort to end the loss
of life to matters completely out of their control with an end result
of victory over a force that threatened the entire world.
Yes, this is about the restriction of movement, if one considers
maintaining safe distances as a means to limit the hardship
of others when close quarters may mean the difference
between suffering a great loss and the eventual freedom
to move about freely once the crisis has passed.
But this is not about food rationing, unless one considers the inability
to socially gather at either fine dining or fast food dining
establishments as the establishment of food rationing,
regardless of the availability of food at home,
despite, or as the direct result of, the hoarding of essential items.
What seems to plague the people of this tale is masked in the vanity
of people determined to do as they please and in an exaggeration of the loss
of freedom in the face of an economic hardship that would have been weathered
in the past by a determination to bring and end to that hardship.
And so the tale is simply this.
In a cold-hearted world, where the efforts of the people
might be seen as less demanding than during times of war,
where little thought was given to the health and safety of others,
and where simple sacrifices were disdained,
the ice detached and the people floated away.
Missouri continues to be considered a Red Zone state, with COVID-19 positivity rates far above acceptable levels. Those who express concern for transmission seem to be in the minority, and the numbers continue to rise, as many people in my area ignore mask recommendations, wearing them only when required by a shop or store. In a county of 60,000 people, there have been more than 4,000 cases of COVID-19. Of those people tested, the state has a positivity rate of over 20%.
I tested (negative) prior to traveling to New York, then quarantined and tested again (once more negative). As I stay “out of circulation” during my stay here, I feel safe in visiting with my daughter before she has her child next week, and following that when I see my new granddaughter.
After that? Well, after that I drive back home to a hot spot where people seem content to ignore the numbers that continue to rise.
I’ll be away for the next three weeks, so I thought I’d get in one more chance to take photos of fall colors. On Saturday, I went for a drive to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, which is 60 miles south of my home in Missouri. It’s located on Lake of the Ozarks and is known for its limestone bluffs and karst formations, as well as for the fire-ravaged mansion known as “The Castle.” I’ve posted other photo blogs of its fall colors in the past, including this one.
It was a mostly sunny day when I left home. By the time I reached the lake, scattered clouds became mostly cloudy as the day went on. The temperatures were in the mid-60s so it was comfortable walking weather. I didn’t do any trail hiking, but I walked about 1 ¾ miles by following the paved and graveled paths. While some trees were bare, many were colorful and the oaks and hickories were getting ready to change.
As I said, I’ll be gone for a few weeks. I left yesterday, Sunday, and drove 700 miles to my son’s home in Cleveland. I’ll stay here for a few days before moving on to Buffalo to stay with my son. Of course, I’ve spent some time (the first visit in eleven months) with my granddaughter, who will be two years old in a couple of weeks, and I’ll see her again on the return trip.
I thought I’d need to stay here for fourteen days, so that I’d be cleared to enter New York State, but NY’s travel restrictions changed while I was driving to Ohio. Now the requirement for all out-of-state travelers is a negative COVID test within three days prior to entering NY, followed by a three-day quarantine in NY, followed by a COVID test in NY.
Coincidentally, I tested in Missouri and received a “negative” notification Sunday morning. Since test results can take up to a week, I’ll drive to NY on Wednesday (within the three -day window), then test on Saturday. I should have my “negative” result by the following Saturday, just in time for me to see my daughter for the first time in eleven months, just before her baby is born. Since she has type 1 diabetes, her doctors want to induce labor two weeks early to avoid complications. So, she has a “tentative date” of November 17 for her first child, and if everything works out I’ll get to meet my new granddaughter.
My online presence has been erratic the past few months, but for the next three weeks it could be sporadic. I know I’ll have down time while family is busy at work and I’m technically “in quarantine,” so we’ll see how that works out. I have poetry to catch up on, as well as comments on my own poetry to catch up with, so I’ll do what I can. I’ve looked forward to this visit for a while, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
take new direction
Here are some of those photos from Saturday. (Click any image for a larger view in a new tab.)