It’s like I want to make it poetic. I really do.
But I sit down to write and there is an overspill of nothing. I want to take the confusion and fear and tidy it up with stanzas to memorialize this odd moment in time but nothing about it resonates as rhythmic or artful or worthy.
There are the heroes, of course. Stacking shelves, mailboxes, blood banks and cadavers — who cannot possibly appreciate the pomp and circumstance of the memes, through the direness of it all. Our thank yous will never be enough so we put them to the face of the “National Treasure” instead– a man (who I am told is deceased) who comforted us in the oddest of ways. Unapologetic, laugh out loud, erase your photos kinds of ways. The kind you don’t mention in a poem. Or forward to mom.
Poetically, it is the moment in time when the world stopped—shut down, shut in, closed.
There was music. There was wifi and internet and more social media than one brain could possibly handle in twenty-four hours. There was The Tiger King. But as a mass, we mourned grandparents, classrooms, playdates, and hugs. As moms, we mourned aimlessly meandering around Target in all of its silent and joy-bringing glory. Shit, we mourned toilet paper. And as unscientists, we spewed facts about virology and epidemiology amongst friends– from six feet apart, of course. We fought about our stance in multiple group chats and on Zoom happy hours, all while our family’s toileting needs dwindled. Surely this didn’t happen, they’ll say!
Poetically it was a solemn time of human awakening and a revival of simpler times: family bike rides, game nights, sit down dinners, cooking.
We stopped working to live; we started to work from home to survive. And in our barren tracks, the world started to regenerate. One by one we fell– New Yorkers—the most resilient kind– of all ages. And yet the Earth seemed to rejoice in its own healing. Were you too wrapped up in the President’s twitter or Google classroom—stunned by the complexity of second-grade math– to take note? It was eye-opening.
Our politics were more divided than ever. But we banded together alas. As an informed community, we unified over one simple truth—Carole Baskin did it. Fed to the tigers, like we, the average Joe, to this virus. We don’t need masks; everyone needs a mask. It’s only old people; thirty-year-olds are dying. Our economy will open again by Easter because I love Easter—what the actual fuck? You didn’t need to hoard all the toilet paper! A real side note: I am almost out of goddamn toilet paper.
As a poem, all this minutia is vulgar. So instead I will say that as April showers continue to fall upon us like the souls of those we have lost, we will hold tight for the flowers that we can only pray that May will bring. Because for fuck’s sake, there is nothing more poetically just than flowers for the deceased, alone in their suffering at the end, the only solace of a goodbye over FaceTime. And so I pray.
Devon Elizabeth Cornell is a Long Island French teacher and mother of three who has been inspired by quarantine life to find DIY projects around the home and resume writing. Instagram: le.chic.mur