Fighting, winning the battle, meeting the challenge, overcoming the enemy, warriors in our isolation, the language we use to describe these times and our relationship to the virus has left me flat out exhausted, more than I can bear right now. All of this yang when I am yearning for yin. My warrior, sweet girl with the sad tired eyes needs rest. She has done battle with the patriarchy, with misogyny, with rapists and bullies; she’s confronted liars, hustlers and gypsy thieves. She’s walked through fire and swallowed stars. She’s suited up and burned down cathedrals, been barefoot and broken, been given medals and honors, been queen for a day.
But now I am tired, exhausted really. My body is weeping for rest. But what of the world in need? Who will lead the charge and inspire if not you? Who will answer the phone and listen to the needs of others, the pull across the wires to open a vein and bleed, nod, make appropriate sympathetic noises, say call any time, I’m always here.
But I’m not always here. I’m barely here right now in the broken territory of my own grief and losses.
What then shall we do, my warrior princess asks, lying down on the Persian carpet, lighting up a joint and using her shield as an ashtray. What now?
Now? Now I want to stand at the threshold of the rest of my life with my hands outstretched, filled with seed for the birds, bread for the hungry. Now I want to take solitary walks in the mountains, to enter the living spirit of nature, gather small stones of quartz to make an altar in the garden where the daffodils bloom. Now is the time to surrender to the depths of disorder, chaos and confusion swirling around us, and to have the faith that out of this darkness we will return with the knowledge of how to live in a sacred way upon the earth, to find what’s been lost.
Seriously? She says, trying on my old satin gowns and high heels. Walk in the woods? Surrender to the darkness? Cut me some slack. Where’s the action?
There is no action, I say. Can’t you see I’m tired. I want only to learn kindness, to practice patience which I’m short on. And forgiveness.. Mother, Father, rapists and bullies, I’m trying to forgive you, I really am, trying to see you as a manifestation of God, but it’s hard, harder than hard, and you better believe this is a challenge worthy of any warrior.
So, she says, trying on my gold eye shadow, that’s it? All this inside stuff, prayer and shit and no battle?
No battle for now, I say. Now we rest. Gather our forces. Do all the things we said we’d do when life slowed down. Play the piano again, your beloved companion since childhood. Make peanut sauce for christsake. Re-read all of Louise Erdrich because she is the warrior’s warrior. Return from the depths with the old stories that will teach us what we need to know about descent and renewal, returning with deeper resources for how to make the world new again, because the world as we knew it is already gone.
Okay she says, subdued, finally listening. Deal for now.
Okay I say, following my breath, the in and out of steadiness. Deal for now.
This I meant to say
that we had to stop.
We knew it. We all felt it
that it was too furious
our doing. Our being with things.
All of us outwards.
Agitating every hour – to make it yield.
We had to stop
and we could not.
Should have done it together.
Slowing the race.
But we could not.
No human effort
could make us do it.
And since this
was a common unspoken desire
like an unconscious will
perhaps our specie has obeyed
and loosened the chains
that bind our seed. Opened
The most secret cracks
Perhaps this is why there was a leap
From one specie to another – from the bat
To us. Something in us wanted to give way.
Perhaps. I do not know.
Now we stay home.
What is happening is uncanny.
and there is gold, I believe, in this strange time.
There may be gifts.
Golden nuggets for us. If we help each other.
There is a strong call
of the specie now and as a specie now
we ought to think of ourselves. A common destiny
binds us here. We knew it. But not so well.
Either all or none.
The Earth is powerful. Alive, for real.
I feel her thinking with a thought
that we ignore.
What about our present plight? Let us consider
whether she might be the one moving things.
And whether the law that governs
the whole universe, and even what happens now,
might not be a full expression of that law
that rules us also – like any star – like any cosmic particle.
What if the dark matter was this,
this sort of holding together of all things
in an ardor of life, with death the sweeper coming
to rebalance each specie, in order
to keep it within its own measure, its proper place,
Guided. We have not made the sky.
A powerful wordless voice
tells us now to stay home, like children
who have really blown it, without knowing why
and will not have kisses, no hugs.
Each now forced to restrain,
bringing us back, perhaps, to the slowness
Of the old foremothers.
To look at the sky more often,
To paint a corpse with ocre. To bake bread
well. To look at a countenance carefully.
To sing slowly in order to lull a child to sleep.
For the first time to hold another’s hand,
To feel with force the connection.
As one organism. We bear the whole specie
Within. Within we save it.
And to that shaking
Of a palm with someone else’s palm,
To that simple act that is now to us forbidden
we shall return, I think, with wider understanding
We shall be here with greater care. More delicate
our hand will be within the making of our lives.
Now that we know how sad it is
to stay a meter apart.