Alive

I wake up today 
feeling that heavy warmth
in my body
and I think,
I love my life

And by life
I don’t mean
what I do, or what I have
I mean that happiness 
I had as a child
of being alive

Veneer of Normal

The week of distance learning is over.
I can feel the heat dissolving
that had filled my chest 
as if the job were pushing a train up a too-narrow track.

Saturday I wake, not to the alarm clock, but
to the sound of hands raking through legos.
Water jerks through the pipes under the kitchen floor,
the first load of laundry is getting clean.
Onions sizzle in hot oil as I drop
handfuls of chopped carrots and celery into the pan.

The familiar rhythm of our weekend
lulls me into thinking
that everything is OK.

But this weekend, a refrigerated semi-truck is backed up
to a hospital in Queens to hold all the dead bodies.

Ancient holy sites in Jerusalem, like the church
where they say Jesus was buried and resurrected
are shuttered, the first time since the Plague of 1349.

In India hundreds of thousands of destitute migrant workers
leave locked-down cities in a historic exodus. Without trains,
they must walk back to their villages, some hundreds of miles away.


After lunch my husband and daughters help the little ones
with their Italian homework.
Then steam hisses from the espresso maker
signaling the end of quiet time.
Feet thunder down the basement stairs
to play Rocket League and Death Run.

This is familiar music, but I know it’s a lie.
A veneer over a disaster
of biblical proportions.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

“They’re saying that this crisis
is going to be the end of
America being the richest, most powerful
country in the world,”
my daughter Virginia tells me.

“I know.”

“It’s like ‘nothing gold can stay,'” she says. “Do you know that poem?”

She shows it to me on her MacBook Pro.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost, 1874-1963

And we talk about empires
rising and falling,
good and evil,
and if what we always thought
was ever true.