A friend of mine has asked me to avoid saying “rules” when I write about shelter-in-place, because that sounds too martial, too authoritarian. I sort of understand. But “guidelines” feels wrong, too, because so many people seem to be taking them as just that, and ignoring them, going out without masks, not maintaining social distance, acting as though this is all gone. Part of me wants to say: May it be so. May it be gone. But we don’t make a thing “gone” just by declaring it so.
The science seems to be offering us a different picture, one in which we could be facing quarantines and sickness and death for a long time to come. I also want the governor (of PA, where I live) to take us more quickly to yellow and then to green. But I want my parents to be safe, I want the random people who seem to die from this for no apparent reason not to die, I (selfishly) want us to avoid a second peak so I can go back to my classroom in the fall.
Call them what you will–guidelines or rules or orders–please follow through a little longer, for all of us. Wash your hands. Stay home. Plot the Green Revolution. Practice caution and simplicity. Get along without. Keep us all safe.
1. This morning at the feeder: goldfinches, bluebirds, doves, downy woodpecker, chipping sparrows, indigo bunting. An indigo bunting in the sun seems lit from within by blue fire. An indigo bunting in the shade sucks all color into itself, holding all the shadows around it within its little bunting shape. What a magical creature.
2. Yesterday I did my Ten Breaths inside a fairy ring of mushroom clump beside the stump of the poplar tree. It was a perfect circle. The faeries did not whisk me away to the Faerie Queen’s realm, perhaps because I have long been a friend of their beloved poplar, perhaps because I am not imaginative enough for their purposes.
3. A family of vultures have taken up residence in the edges of the bosque across the road. Such somber and thoughtful folk they are.
4. The amazing crimson of that little red Japanese maple, and the scarlet of the cardinal up on the hillside above, and the glowing scarlet fire of the head of that red-bellied woodpecker.
5. Nothing in this part of the hollow died of freeze last night. This morning is crisply frigid, breezy and shining.
May we walk in Beauty!
“No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.” —Lupita Nyong’o
TO MAKE A PROMISE
by David Whyte
Make a place of prayer, no fuss,
just lean into the white brilliance
and say what you needed to say
all along, nothing too much, words
as simple and as yours and as heard
as the bird song above your head
or the river running gently beside you,
let your words join to the world
the way stone nestles on stone
the way the water simply leaves
and goes to the sea,
the way your promise
breathes and belongs
with every other promise
the world has ever made.
Now, leave them to go on,
let your words alone
to carry their own life,
without you, let the promise
go with the river.
Have faith. Walk away.
“Feminism requires precisely what patriarchy destroys in women. Unimpeachable bravery in confronting male power.” —Andrea Dworkin