I go to poetry when I’m distressed. Today I open the book Together in a Sudden Strangeness, America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic.
It’s odd to realize how long this pandemic has been going on. There are poems about how to deal with Easter and then the Summer Solstice.
The title of the book comes from a poem by Pablo Neruda “ Keeping Quiet”, a poem that requests a stop, a come to silence for a second. The poem was written in the 1950’s.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
I feel us all together in a “sudden strangeness” today.
Nancy Pelosi takes charge with her response: “The president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America. In calling for this seditious act, the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people.”
Even though this assault has been happening, my heart and gut still reel at this open and violent betrayal.
I’m trying to wrap my mind around it when I open the book to the poem “Elder Care” by Ron Koertge. The poem is about senior shopping hours in the grocery store and how the music at that time of day is geared to seniors. “Mashed Potato Time” plays and “The Loco-Motion”. Elders in the grocery move a little faster in time with the music, and then comes Joey Dee and the Starlighters with “Peppermint Twist”.
I read the words and feel a wiggle, a twirl, a twist, a smile.
We will come through this “sudden strangeness” as we have come through upheavals before.
I was at UCLA when tanks thundered down Wilshire Boulevard to plant themselves on campus.
We orchestrate change.
My local community has been working to support Black Lives Matter.
Today, at my beloved Good Earth grocery store, I saw this: