On Friday the 13th of March, I began self-quarantining at home with my husband, my dog and my cat. Over a month has passed, and we’ve fared remarkably well. I’m amazed at my emotional equanimity, especially since I’m diagnosed bipolar. In part it’s because I’ve rid my life of so many meaningless obligations that didn’t really bring me joy. Zoom has proven its worth many times over. For one thing, I can hear people much better than I often do in person. I never got around to ordering hearing aids before the virus attacked, and now I don’t need them. And when I’m bored or annoyed with a Zoom event, I can click unobtrusively on the little red “leave meeting” message at the lower right of my screen and disappear with no one the wiser. I can indulge my temperamental bladder or pour another cup of coffee or glass of Sauvignon Blanc whenever I’m so inclined.
Writing has been a lifeline too. I’ve completed four solid weeks of Mar Hahne’s Poemunize Zoom workshop and learned a great deal about poetic forms and new approaches to writing poetry. Each day we study a particular form or poem, then use it as a launching pad for our own writing. For example, this poem is modeled after David Biespiel’s “The Theory of Hats,” with its first line “It is hard even to admit this theory of hats.”
The Theory of Wastebaskets
It is hard even to admit this theory of wastebaskets,
That they stand empty, waiting to receive
The cast-off paper evidence of daily life, then fill
To overflowing. Tissues weighted down
With chartreuse snot blown
From the overstuffed head of the virus victim
Waiting to learn if this virus is a cold or if perhaps
A dry cough will develop and her temperature
Will rise, signaling the end of days, at least for her.
The wastebaskets hold shredded paper too. Ripped
Pages of abandoned poems, first drafts
Of novels never finished, fiction that ran out
Of juice and steam. Fantasies of fame unrealized
Now that she’s weighted down with age and excess
Pounds accumulated through excess hours
Huddled at her desk, consuming too much coffee
And Ghirardelli chocolate squares sequestered
In drawers beneath her laptop.
The wastebaskets are overflowing. Snotty tissues
And scraps of paper cascade onto the filthy carpet
Where her cat and dog shuffle them into ever deepening
Chaos. She makes a resolution: today’s the day
She’ll empty the wastebaskets, rid this room
Of clutter, clear her office and her mind, make way
for inspiration. She’s made this resolution
Many times before but today the sun
Is struggling to emerge from hazy gray clouds and melt
The final traces of the last spring snowfall. Today
She vows that she’ll survive Corona virus.
In this age of isolation, she vows to make a start.
I wrote this poem on March 25, and I’m still wrestling with the overabundance of paper cluttering my office, but exploring my feelings about it made me feel at least a little better about it.
The Poemunize class ended on Easter Sunday, but some of the participants have started a private Facebook group where we can post and critique each other’s work, so the journey continues. In my next post here, I’ll share my Domestic Rants poem, which continues my raging-against-housework theme. Please subscribe by clicking in the menu column to the right, so you won’t miss anything.