Not that kind, where everything you thought was good
is revealed as vile and evil.
Well, not exactly.
More like the scales falling from our eyes,
the idea that we will simply
Go Back To The Way It Was
When This Is Over,
slowly dissolving like hoarfrost on a window
under the warm, even breath of our enforced slowdown.
you are trying to teach your own kids while
holding down a full-time job in a room less home office
than bare spot on the kitchen table
gaming the food deliveries twice a day or
scuttling out for groceries and meds like a cockroach into the light
and cooking at least one full meal every single day
while trying to keep the house from becoming
an unlivable sty with your kids and mate always underfoot
in a space far too small for 24 hours of that—and
what happens when your job is gone
and there are no other jobs,
only real work?
What happens if school is forever remote
or tailored tutoring for each student?
What if you are forced to sleep a little later,
eat a leisurely breakfast
while you read the news,
then take the dog out for a walk
and nod at your neighbors through the mask
and from six feet away exchange greetings and gossip
before you settle down to power through the tasks
that must be done instead of just looking busy?
What if you can pay to have your groceries or meals delivered
by people whose choices are more than risking their health
for a pittance or never working again? Like you.
There has to be something different.
There is something different, now, between
the false extremes of ever-working and the total collapse
of unmitigated and unfettered rampant cancerous greed.
Easier to imagine the dystopia than the utopia. But try.
First, we need to ask ourselves
how we lived before
in the daily commute, the road rage
that wore us out before we even arrived,
the time we spent trying to fill eight hours
with work because we were stuck there stuck there stuck there
because our boss is a control freak who must see us
with our head down every single moment of the day
while we’re eating at our desk or daydreaming or actually
working. Why did we put up with that when
in this moment, with no one watching, we begin to unfurl?
We let the tension ooze out like matter from a lanced boil
and stop poisoning us and our relationships.
We let the dog, the kids distract us
and get up from the table or the new desk
to peel an orange and separate the sections one by one
savoring the bright flavor like the captured sunlight it is,
pour the tea from the pot with a Zen focus.
Slowly, slowly, the nightmares and uneasy sleep pass
and we wake when we need to, as quickly as we need to,
diving right in or stumbling toward caffeine and toast.
We stay up late, late or rise absurdly early,
time zones irrelevant, the word “deadline” becoming a shifty thing,
robbed of urgency. Is anyone dying? No? Not so pressing, then.
And the people who make this possible—warehouse workers,
stockers, delivery drivers, cooks, cashiers, tellers—
their importance should transform them too,
from disposable cogs in the Amazonian behemoth
to stones in the foundation because is it not clear now
that nothing happens without them? That you cannot
sit in your kitchen and compose economic forecasts, or
sociological studies, or environmental impact statements, or
papers on the physics of space-time, or poems
without their care in their duty to all things that
you have learned to take for granted?
So many things becoming clearer now, so many
lies we have lived by falling away.
Don’t pick them up again.
‒May 6, 2020, Brooklyn
©Lee Kottner 2020