• A wide social network
• Friends and family who know the me that exists beneath the facade of social media
• An emergency room just a few minutes away from my home that provides prompt, high-quality care
• A doctor’s office that knows my history and will see me when I’m sick
• Health insurance that makes it possible for me to seek out care without breaking the bank
• Knowing that many other people in my part of the world are suffering from respitory ailments — that I’m not alone in my suffering
• The kind of job that won’t fire me because I’m sick and can’t come to work
• Zyrtec, Robitussin, Tessalon pearls, and Albuterol
• A partner who’s willing and able to drive me to the doctor when I’m too sick to drive myself
There’s more to be grateful for than this. My life is changing very rapidly right now, and the stress of those changes has no doubt contributed to my getting so sick. But for today at least, I’m going to focus on resting, healing, and getting better. And on all the positive supports in my life that make that possible.
A few notes about April, National Poetry Month, and related or tangential topics:
- April is the cruelest month because it is neither one thing nor another. Especially in Boston, it is neither the callused braw of midwinter, nor the soft (and — thanks to climate change — rainy) flower-fest of spring. In February we laugh at freezing weather, we don our extra layers and our vaselined lips as a matter of course. In April, lulled into a sense of false security, we open our petals into the sunny breezes, decide to take out the summer dresses and the short-sleeved shirts. And then freeze and shiver in temperatures that felt warm to us in February.
- T.S. Eliot is a fussy little busybody who thought that shirtsleeves were sordid.
- This April, I want the fields to lay fallow. I walk the wavering line between abandonment and overpruning of my poetic garden.
- The sap rises up and I write, write, write, accumulating pages and pages of white, letter-sized writing pad, the blue lines running undercurrent beneath my handwriting, sometimes scrawl and sometimes legible.
- The sap rises up and I want to run through the bogs screaming, expounding. The sap rises up and I rise with it, and then I return to the couch, or the breakfast table, looking at the birds who congregate at the feeder outside, along with the squirrels.
- How much longer can I keep both the squirrels and the woodpeckers — two downy, two red-bellied, none red-headed, in spite of the red head of the red-bellied woodpecker — in suet?
- The worst thing to do with the seedling is disturb it. Let it lay there, half in and half out of the ground. But when they start to crowd thick and green (because you never obey the seed-packet’s instructions, always spacing them too far or too close), then you must pluck and choose, which one will stay and which will go. Otherwise, they all die out, competing for the same scant patch of dirt and sun and rain.
- The squirrels and the chipmunks — and your own damn cats — will likely devour many of the flowers, even in their bloom. Look at the crocus, who finally bloomed only to become scattered-pink the next day, scattered and tragic petals among their white-and-green-striped arrow-leaves.
- Plant them anyway.
- Trust the wisdom of the numbered list.
- Stay in touch, whether casual, constant, or connubial, with those who understand the importance of a turn of phrase, the difference between Joe Green and Guiseppe Verde.
- Take it moment by moment.
- Remember to be of service — in both the meaningful work and the work that pays the bills.
afternoon sun slants
shows the marsh in a new light
witch hazel, hemlock
three deer in the trees
bound away with startled tails
tiny wild island
first set of tracks on the trail
corbins cry above
PL5 written on the wrapped-green house,
down from the street from Boston’s last
“Please,” utters the spirit, tight-drawn and fragile
as you motor from one encounter to the next.
January looms in the blue-and-white sky,
chills your fingers as you dig gloves from pockets
Unaccustomed to their new location,
all your possessions cry for mercy, comfort,
time a gratuity
and your check so small,
it won’t cover the bills
climb the hill to the summit
and lay on the grass
rusting along the highway