Like everyone else during this pandemic, I’ve been thinking. Too much thinking. The shot above is not from today. Today is one of those crazy stormy days; crazy rain, howling winds, you don’t want to go out even if you could.
I’m thinking about how unprepared we all were for this. Not just the tangible, obvious unprepared of a federal government that decided the best way to respond to warnings was to stick their fingers in their ears and sing lalalalastockmarketlalala, the lack of sufficient medical equipment and PPE for health care workers, disruptions in supply chains. The lack of emotional preparedness of…me.
I mean, it’s a bad storm today, but not The Day After Tomorrow.
We wake up and shuffle through our days, room to room in our apartments or for brief errands outside, but we haven’t turned into actual zombies, a la Zone One.
The streets are quiet, Broadway’s gone “dark,” but despite the photos circulating of empty tourist spots like Times Square, the city isn’t silent, as The Stand would have led me to believe. As I joked the other day with a friend, I was mentally prepared for the need to engage in a bit of looting to access food in the grocery stores, not waiting on line for over an hour to be granted entry. I took the photo above last week while on line for the store, a full two blocks away.
So here we are, just about mid-April, almost a month since NY has officially been under stay-at-home orders, over a month since many been social distancing. I’m still thinking too much, and April is still National Poetry Month, which of course puts me in mind of being an angsty teen and writing angsty poetry while sitting on the rocks on an empty, windy Brooklyn beach, expecting many things ahead–some good, some not, but not this. I’m still a lousy poet, but sometimes it still feels right. I’m not writing anything else, so why not?
Birds Sing in the Quiet Spaces
In the used to be normal days
The space of almost mornings
Gray and brown wings against black to blue to lavender sky
A moment with coffee, while neighbors snored to the rhythm of
Recycle trucks belching along
Subways rumbled below, metallic clash and squeal of elevated tracks reaching
Birds sing in the quiet spaces
Today, yesterday, tomorrow, the new shifting normal, quiet all day days
Thought they’d be different days
Birdsong throughout days
But city quiet isn’t silent
It’s the momentary standstill walking past a writhing garbage bag on the curb at
The count between a split of lightning and ripple of thunder
The pause after a squeal and thud before traffic moves on
The halt of skittering roaches against cracked linoleum when the lights come on
The right before applause as the lights dim
The stun on the playground between a fall from the monkey bars and a wail
The space between a siren’s keen and speed followed by the lament of quiet lights
that roll away
Ambulance full and void
Birds sing in the quiet spaces.