What Remains Vivid Now

the memory of the pansy, bold faced, persisting
through whiplash weather.
March 14: snow.
March 15: storm of pollen

over the mountains,
across the flats,
down into the valleys —

all at once.

It was my first hay fever,
I think, but it is hard
to think back.

So much happens each day.


I wrote this poem on the first day of the “Stay Home” order in Oregon — Monday, March 16, 2020.

That previous Friday, the after school program I was teaching in had been cancelled due to snow. Given there was only one more week before Spring Break, I received this news as a gift from the collective universe of harried teachers and rowdy students.

In the year since, there has been no news of an end date. The days pile like snow at a door, trapping us inside until we dig ourselves out and, unfortunately, no one thought to stock up on shovels. In concert, they are getting longer with the onset of Spring, and my exponentially enhanced perception of time.

The distance from the beginning feels immeasurable, unseeable, and cavernous, particularly the emotional distance between myself then and now. When my mind draws a self-portrait set in the past, the face is noisy and gray, but the pansies pop against the cold tones at a high emotional pitch, capturing a dissociative state that dates back well before “then.”

COVID-19 will pass, but some things will never go back to normal, and perhaps that is for the best.   

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