Poem: A Lesson Without Dying

As we approach the anniversary of the start of COVID-19 lockdowns, I (apparently, as I discovered this morning) have some “big feels” as they say about it. That’s where this poem came from:

A Lesson Without Dying

Remember homemade bread? 
Not toilet paper or gas prices.
Not doctored spam videos.
Not fear or anger or denial.
Remember homemade bread.
And discovering ways to connect
Across time and space 
And (at least) six feet of distance.
Supporting the locals instead of 
The big box stores, and finding new things
To do with our hands.
Our hearts.
Our time.

Remember dancing?
Alone in your backyard or with your whole house
In the living room, and recording it and sharing it
And not caring if anyone was watching
(but maybe hoping they were).
Remember dancing. 
And embracing the ways that technology
Made us feel a little less alone and a whole lot closer
Regardless of the miles between us.
When we were thoughtful about what
We were (and weren’t) spreading 
To our family.
Our neighbors.
Out community.

Remember, yes, the extreme sense of confusion and fear
And remember, yes, the insurmountable losses. 
Remember the stress and concern and the fissures that deepened
In an already fractured society. 

And next to that – not in place of or despite of that – 
Remember eating sweets without shame.
Remember curling up on couches,
And long walks outside,
And saving four-legged friends from concrete rooms,
And smiles so big they had to reach your eyes because your mouth was hidden.

I wish it felt possible
To learn a lesson without dying. 
I worry that death and pain and stress,
And the fragments that came after,
Will be all anyone can remember.  

It makes it feel radical – defiant – 
To remember bread and dancing.