Home for Christmas?
You take it for granted,
You shouldn't have taken it for granted
That you can always go see your mother
And have her hug you
And give you a kiss on the lips
Like she likes to do.
You take it for granted,
You shouldn't have taken it for granted
That the Fall ushers in time with family.
Your annual trip to Gatlinburg,
Then Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Two eight hour rides to Cincinnati
To stay with the aunts
And then two eight hour rides back.
What'll it be like to put up
Those Christmas decorations
You've been keeping in a box for years
Because you're never in Atlanta for Christmas?
Good thing you have two trees
Since you're used to so many
Filling up the aunts' house.
The best one is the tiny one in the guest bedroom
Whose twinkled colored lights you fall asleep to.
Are you surprised?
For years, dread has crept into
Your holiday season
Because you knew life would someday change
That you wouldn't always be a kid.
That time is flowing not fixed. Not frozen.
You haven't lost much.
You might lose more.
You're afraid of the risk.
Afraid you might compound the problem.
This year's season of joy
Is a time for sacrifice! And safety!
For the first six months of the pandemic, I tried not to think much about what would happen around the holidays. but I’ve started to think about it more over the last couple of weeks, and it’s making me sad.
I shattered my cell phone screen
When I accidentally dropped it square
On the ground, solid pavement, at the Farmers Market.
Luckily I found a good place to repair it in downtown Decatur.
They required masks and had two hand sanitizer stations.
The whole process was done in about an hour and a half.
In the "before" times, I hate calling them that,
I would have gone to a coffee shop or restaurant nearby,
But instead I walked to the Decatur cemetery
Where I sat on a wall scribbling in a journal.
(Remember my cell phone was being repaired.)
I was comfortable enough
Until a teenager who talked loudly
Started coughing in my audible vicinity,
And I got scared and left.
But then I had to walk around in the hot sun
Passing by and walking behind strangers
Some masked and others unmasked.
There were diners gathered on the patio at Leon’s.
There were people standing in line for ice cream.
And queued up at the indoor poke bowl place.
But I couldn’t or wouldn’t do any of that.
So I just walked and waited
Until my cell phone was repaired
And "normal" life could resume.
The Covid Weight
I thought I’d outgrown my size 8 jeans,
But it turns out they were size 10.
And they still fit over my hips,
But I have to breathe in sharply to
Bring up the zipper.
The last things I did before the world changed
We went to eat Hot Pot on Buford Highway
And ran into an acquaintance who said
Business was down on that strip
Because of the outbreak in China.
Then there were the marathon trials
I watched with a friend on February 29th in Atlanta.
There was an outbreak in Italy then.
In the US, it was spreading,
But we didn’t know the extent
Because of our problems with the tests,
And because our president was lying to us,
Telling us it would disappear.
“Covid-19” my friend said while we stood on the
Sidelines of the race,
And I remember the way a tremble
Rolled down my spine.
I should be worried I thought,
But we were still nearly two weeks away
From that day in March when everything was canceled.
We were still being told it wasn’t a problem
That travel bans would keep us safe
180,000 deaths later and here we are.
*I drafted this poem on August 29, and I believe my 180,000 statistic is accurate for around that date. Currently, it’s September 16th, and the death count is closer to 195,000.
Until today, the closest wedding
I'd ever attended was a ten minute
Uber drive from my house.
(This was before I switched to Lyft.)
Today I was set to attend a
Wedding in my house--a livestream affair.
I dressed four minutes beforehand
In a simple gray cotton skirt and a pink shirt
Because it didn't feel right to
Wear my Corona daytime PJs,
Even if I was just watching it over YouTube
And not video conferencing on Zoom.
We arrived on time to technical difficulties.
Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
A flurry of comments, "What's going on?"
"We're working on it."
But the wedding never came through.
Instead we watched the YouTube videos with the
Most ever views--Despicito, Baby Shark Dance, and
Recipe for Disaster, a Russian cartoon
With a checkers loving bear and
A rambunctious blonde girl who makes too much oatmeal.
I worried that maybe the wedding had been called off,
But then I saw the bride had changed
Her relationship status on Facebook. Phew.
The groom later sent us the link to the recording.
Everyone looked lovely in their formal wear and masks.
The maid of honor's pale blue mask matched her
Spaghetti strapped floor length dress.
The groom's black mask lent a distinctive air to his suit and tie.
The bride's mask was beaded, her dress lace.
At the end, they exited the spot where they'd exchanged their vows
And were cheered by masked strangers passing by,
Unintended guests more present than we were.
When I agreed to love you
In good times and bad,
I thought the bad times would be
Unique to us--internal.
Sickness, poverty, infidelity, bickering.
I didn't think the bad times would be
A global pandemic,
The erosion of American democracy,
Environmental destruction brought on by global warming.
I took the security of our world for granted--
Restaurants, businesses, and shops would always be there.
I never thought most of life would be off limits
And that we--the two of us--
Would be left alone in our home
Safeguarding ourselves from the outside world
One Amazon purchase at a time.
I'd still say, "I do."
Was the Summer
1967 was the Summer of Love in San Fran.
2020 has been the summer of cucumbers (and coronavirus).
So many cucumbers
Because we joined a CSA
And every week there are at least
Four or five in our box--all kinds:
English, Common, Kirby.
One week they gave us dill too
And said, "make pickles!"
But we didn't do it--now it's been weeks and weeks,
We still haven't done it
Even though the cucumber onslaught continues
Just like the coronavirus.
2001 was the summer I graduated high school,
2011 was the summer I got married.
1997 Bone Thugs-N-Harmony topped the charts with Tha Crossroads
And the first boy to ever flirt with me
Wrapped his hand around my waist and squeezed
So hard his fingertips dented the bubblegum in my pocket.
A cucumber wouldn't have been so malleable,
But I didn't have too many of those back then.
When you wear a mask to
Try on glasses, you can see
Whether the glasses will
Fog up on your face.
But you don't really know
How they'll look on you without the mask.
But you do know you are being safer
For the sake of the sales associate
Who'll clean all the frames you try on
And who says "maybe this will all
Be over soon" relaying a hope
In him that's died in you.
When You're the Ma'am
Guess what? The power's out again.
And there's a big roach,
The kind that splatters,
Crawling up the wall. Ew.
And the power won't be on till 12:30pm
So we can't open the fridge to make breakfast
Even though you just worked out.
And the medicine you need right away
Will be delivered in 1-2 days
Due to miscommunication and a malfunctioning website.
"Ma'am you need to calm down."
That was me. I was the ma'am.
And they gave me twenty minutes on hold
To cool off.
Later walking the drugstore aisles
I chased away my cares with consumerism
Like it was the before times
Buying toothpaste, toothbrushes, cheap eyeglass chains,
And picking up my prescription.
I believe you have me filed under "Ma'am."
They danced to the Taylor Swift song Lover
Three girls in moss green gauzy dresses
Channeling through their ballet movements
The longings of an adult woman in love.
I danced like them once
In an itchy yellow tulle skirt
To the Bright Sunshiny Day song
Which is why I'll always remember the movie Cool Runnings.
I danced at the Emery Theatre in Cincinnati
A venue with two balconies, two thousand seats,
A grand stage, and a giant green room
Where I sat scratching with my classmates
Before and after our turn on stage.
These three girls danced in a parking lot
In taped off squares they couldn't cross
No matter how much the music moved them.
Last weekend we lost power
The same day the water went out.
No, we're not behind on our bills.
It happened to our neighbors too
Who asked us, "Is your water out?"
"Yes," I said. "This happens here."
At 5:30am, I woke up David
So we could buy ice at our
Neighborhood gas station that's become
Much brighter ever since they built
Those nice houses across the street from it.
I wanted the ice to save the food in the fridge.
Before we left the house, David handed
Me half a banana in the no power darkness
And said, "Eat this."
It was covered in banana hairs
But I couldn't see them
So I just ate.
We only lost a beef shoulder to the outage
And the boil water advisory was lifted the next evening
But we'll be living in a pandemic for a long while.
David bought eight fish
For our backyard pond--
We call the biggest Hootie
And the rest are just the Goldfish.