Notes on the pandemic, part 3

Tabby cat sits and looks out a window
Tabby cat sits and looks out a window
Now I know what it’s like to be a house cat.

2.5 months in and I know I’m forgetting things: the feel of an underwire bra, how to stand close to other people, which clothes should never be worn outside my house. For awhile I thought about it before I left the house. Now I go out, bra be damned.

I’m forgetting how to plan. There are two kinds of future now. There’s the immediate: Shake the milk carton, decide if I can put off going to the grocery store another day. Then, there’s a future, post COVID-19. It has no date, just lingers at the horizon. …

The listicle (sorta)

two cats sit on opposite ends of a window.
two cats sit on opposite ends of a window.

1. Is this the apocalypse?
We are driving to pick up a thermometer. My boyfriend says it’s strange driving around, how different this moment is. I look out the window onto a suburban landscape. The parking lots are half empty; Any store that is open is now a drive through. Or it’s like Sweet Green. They are open but only for pickups. The door to the shop opens onto two hardwood tables blocking the entrance. There, our salads are neatly bagged, receipts attached to the bag.

He calls it apocalyptic. I shake my head. After all, cars still follow the…

Lines of light drop vertically across a dark background.
Lines of light drop vertically across a dark background.

The absence of the Witch does not

Invalidate the spell –

-Emily Dickinson

I focus on what we aren’t saying. I ask my friends and colleagues how they’re doing.

You know…


Taking it day by day…

I roll in their silences, the uncertainty hanging loudly between us. We want to be fine but how can we be fine with so many questions we can’t answer? We don’t speak in questions. Instead, they leak out as prophecies.

The pandemic could be waves lasting 18 months.

Trump may declare martial war.

Daycare will probably close here next week.

I nod but…

Musings on Shavuot

This year, I come to Shavuot, the Jewish holiday of revelation, exhausted. We have come through an emotional 2019, full of plagues we can’t seem to stop or hold back. Did our ancestors feel this too at the foot of Sinai?

They’d left everything they’ve known for a promise that hadn’t yet arrived. They were in a desert, a strange and dangerous place: relying on manna to fall daily from the sky, for Miriam’s well to follow and fill their thirst. They depended on God to remain steadfast and loving to survive the desert.

Yet, how is it that after…

Jacob Blesses His Sons and Prophesies on His Deathbed. Source

And Jacob called his sons and said, “Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come.”- Genesis 49:1

papa can we have a moment
before the future arrives
before the fire leaves your eyes?

once we had campfire nights
even now woodsmoke makes me
eager as a boy waiting
for your stories of angels
at paradise’s gates
of a flood hiding the world

how the mamas smiled
indulging you
how i dreamed your stories
through the night

papa, when did your stride become a limp? how long have your shoulders curved toward the…

“Therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord instead of the boy, and let the boy go back with his brothers.

For how can I go back to my father unless the boy is with me? Let me not be witness to the woe that would overtake my father!” — Genesis 44 33:34

A print from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible illustrations in the possession of Revd. Philip De Vere. Source

we left because there was
no living there

only an empty sky
and rising dust

for a silver cup you’d make me
death’s messenger

the shreds of my brother’s shirt
almost buried me once

we came here for living
and living is all i ask

even as a slave
under your bitter sun

but to leave this boy
for all your fruit

for all your grain
is a death i cannot carry

A/N: Love my poetry? Coffee is my love language

Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharaoh, by Jean-Adrien Guignet, 1816–1864. Credit: Wikmedia Common

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it. Now I have heard it said of you that for you to hear a dream is to tell its meaning.’

Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “Not I! God will see to Pharaoh’s welfare.’ — Genesis 41:15–16

this tongue can reveal
a knife cutting to the heart

the power was easy to love
when it promised the stars

before i learned the cost
a pit pulled from my gut

now, despite the marbled distance
i can feel your hunger

give me your dreams
and knowing will come

it will require sinew and blood
are you ready to pay the cost?

A/N: Love my poetry? Coffee is my love language

“When Joseph came up to his brothers, they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the ornamented tunic that he was wearing, and took him and cast him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Then they sat down to a meal.” -Genesis 37:23–25

the solution can be simple
bread and oil
a cup full of wine

but there are other hungers
the way father said his name
bringing him close
absences known but never filled

now, with an ache satisfied
spread the table
pour blood red wine
until it trickles down the neck

A/n: Love this poem? Coffee is my love language.

“Esau ran to greet [Jacob]. He embraced him and, falling on his neck, he kissed him; and they wept.”- Genesis 33:6

“Meeting Between Esau and Jacob” by Bottalla Raffaellino (Google Art Project)

the load was so heavy
only death could relieve me

i sent ahead a thousand gifts
but none could appease my past

the smell of lentils rising
our father’s hands shaking

your distant bellow
our mother’s whisper, ‘go’

now, how are you here
holding me?

my heart screams ‘let go,
a thick darkness is inside me’

but your love pins me
as you name me brother
and the load comes tumbling down

Love this piece? Coffee is my love language.

“Taking one of the stones of that place, [Jacob] put it under his head and lay down in that place.

He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it.” -Genesis 28 11–12

i have stood at the gap of heaven
where angels rose and returned
wearing skin and bone

i was promised a strange land
when a rock was my only comfort

promises and dreams and angels
but all i could feel
dust in my mouth

what a dream
men believing they’re angels
boys dreaming beyond their station

i stood at the gap of heaven
an awesome sight
a terrible height to fall

Love this piece? Coffee is my love language.

Katie Simpson

Young heart, old soul. Fuel my caffeine addiction

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