PANDEMIC WINTER – WALKING BETWEEN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY (poem)
I used to complain about careless language…nothing happens “between” January and February. But pandemic time is distorted… I don’t know how to use it.
I used to walk freely. Now I’m careful. I carefully try to walk two miles each day.
One mile south takes me across one dangerous road, to the corner of a large blueberry field.
One mile north takes me past a cemetery, across one dangerous road, to the corner of a vineyard. If I enter the cemetery, I can walk 2 miles without crossing a dangerous road.
In the cemetery, I see an open grave. With today’s cold, rain and sleet, the burial is probably postponed. I see plywood, slush, mud. There’s nothing to tell me who died.
I stop at a familiar gravesite, where a neighbor’s family rests. It looks unkempt, but I don’t attempt to tidy it. I speak, passing along news. Why? No one is there to listen.
I nod to my favorite statue, a graceful angel. She looks her best in the snow. Her extended hand offers a candle holder, but there’s no candle. What is she seeking?
My parents are buried far away. I don’t visit graves, don’t sense presence in cemeteries. I don’t feel certain that well-tended graves reflect more love than those left alone.
Most of my living loved ones are far away, too. Fear and danger fill the distance between us. I feel cold.
I walk home, carefully.
Alice Gitchell – February 3, 2021 – May be reproduced with proper credit.