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Part of Eve’s Discussion

April 1, 2020

On a Tuesday morning, as soon as I got up, I went to the other store in town (we have two; a grocery and a big box) to see if they would have some lactaid milk, the kind I cook with and put in tea. The store was not crowded; I did notice that women are better than men at keeping their distance in public. I found a single carton of whole fat lactaid milk and brought it home, along with a carton of regular two percent for Ron to put in his tea. I’m hoping that’s the last time I will have to go inside a store for a little while.

The cats are happy we’re home.

The street outside our house has been quiet, like it is the morning after a snow or ice storm, but it’s like that all day now. I walk up and down it in the afternoon and look at the neighbors’ jonquils and forsythia beginning to open. It’s nice that almost all of the people who pass me, on foot or in a car, wave.

Everyone is poised and waiting. People who planned ahead for seed are thinking about starting plants indoors. I hold my breath for a moment when someone walks past me, as if that will do any more good than kids holding theirs when driving past a cemetery.

It’s like Marie Howe’s poem, “Part of Eve’s Discussion”:

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand,
and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still
and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when
a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop,
very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you
your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like
the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say,
it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only
all the time.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. lemming permalink
    April 1, 2020 5:19 pm

    I’ve been quoting poetry to myself a great deal more since the pandemic broke. I forget just how much I really do know.

    • April 1, 2020 5:20 pm

      Right? I had Dover Beach in my head for two days, a few weeks ago.

  2. April 3, 2020 9:24 pm

    Ooh, I like that poem.

    This really is the strangest time. None of us really know what we’re doing. Except staying home, we know that’s our job.

    • April 5, 2020 10:07 pm

      I’m not particularly good at naming what I’m grateful for and feel especially ornery about it as several things I’d looked forward to for more than a year have had to be canceled, but I will say that what’s happening is teaching me more about what it’s like to live in the moment.

  3. April 10, 2020 11:10 am

    Oooh, like that poem! It certainly is feeling like that these days and when it’s over I am not at all certain things will return to as they were. This is not an all bad proposition in my opinion. I do notice when I go out for a walk and there are other people out (keeping a safe distance) that there is much more friendliness–smiles, hellos, waves. This is something that I hope will remain when the pandemic is over.

    • April 10, 2020 11:31 am

      Yes, I agree that things won’t return to what they were soon, if ever. This is one reason I think everyone should read Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day, which explores what social distancing would be like long-term (I reviewed it on Sept. 26, 2019).
      I’ve talked to neighbors that I haven’t seen since my kids were little and others that I see mostly during extended power outages.

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