WORDS OF WISDOM: Quarantined

Regeneration, rejuvenation, restoration—
Yet nature unaffected —
Late afternoon quiet
One car on the highway, far away
The one dog barks twice, then joins the status quo
Birds cavorting, swirling, scouting for nesting sites
Snubbing social distancing and travel bans
Spring arriving on time, by its own clock.

Quarantine gives me time
Daily routines upended, reset,
Important, pressing tasks now abandoned.
Daily rhythms recalibrated, the away, the alone
Now what is needed. Time away is our new cure, our new
Mantra: stay home, stay well.

Plague now more than unstudied history, the world today
Together in lock down, isolation, yet as one, all against this
Invisible silent, invader, the master of stealth, its
Irrationality in who it sickens, who it takes.

Against it, I plant my garden, pulling weeds, watering seeds,
Taking out the trash, organizing, taking on countless little tasks
Left undone for so long. The virus
Random, lethal, drives my chore list, the home labors;
Idleness, yet urgent, awaiting Death’s irregularity, its unpredictability
Not knowing if it will come, or not. Life is, after all,
Uncertain.

I plan for flowers, summer tomatoes, harvests I will can and dry, and freeze,
Savored on the deck, a meal needing friends to drink to that next season in our lives,
If it comes at all. The virus, unmentioned, ever present, in my mind,
Persistent, obnoxious, pending,
Unplanned.

My life, on hold,
Nothing guaranteed, nothing to really write on the calendar,
Now just white space, some crossed out events,
Uncertainty reigns on the refrigerator door of my life.

Community life regroups, reconvening, after a sort,
New technology, new words, ways to find our way back to familiarity–
Now faces we saw in one room, so human, expected, so normal
Become boxes on screens, familiar yet distant, removed,
Voices, thoughts, and agendas, some old familiarity, yet
Transformed over electronic space, not quite
Human, not quite
Real, like our lives these days, everything
Not just quite, with no real end in
Sight.

The daily death count, new cases, slips into my inbox, a regular part now of
Cocktail hour, an old custom, reinstated by statistical, medical, psychological necessity.
The drink of the day needed, somehow, to deal with the numbers, today’s
Place on the curve we are trying to flatten, we becoming
Amateur epidemiologists, public health analysts—
Dr. Fauci the Mister Rogers of our time.
We are, after all, now in his neighborhood, the new norm of this surreality, the
New normal we are trying to understand, his calmness in the eye of the storm
Soothing.

My mask at the grocery store, the bleach-soaked towel, keeping social distance
Somehow doing my part to flatten the curve, do my part, be the patriotic warrior
On the world’s latest battlefront, six feet apart,
Home for the duration, we to be changed,
Quarantine veterans in the making, changed in ways we do not yet fathom.

I am left with this—-
A social recession, a need to
Make people, again, the center of our lives.
Racism is America’s pre-existing condition.
Wanting that decisions, not situations, determine our future.
Be the communitarian.
—Neal Lemery
4/18/2020

Neal Lemery – community volunteer, author and blogger neallemery.com
Books: NEW book – Building Community: Rural Voices for Hope and Change; Finding My Muse on Main Street, Homegrown Tomatoes, and Mentoring Boys to Men