in these times

By .

and in these times,
I focus on the birds, the chirps, the helicopter thrum of wings
the gossip high in the bare branches
trees waiting for pips to become a blush of early green
at dawn they branch like the lobes of lungs
and crocus tips sharp-tongued make faces through the leaden leaves

and in these times,
each day is brighter, the tint in the sky is turning a more assured blue
and the moon still sasses me early in the morning
“what a beauty I am!” and then fades into breakfast

and in these times I remind myself I like simple things
quiet minutes writing things down
a guitar in my lap
a walk in the woods
these still exist
there are no bombs from the sky.
no phobia. no hostility.
my unearned blessings.
I don’t walk down a street uncertain in my gender, ability, race

and in these times it’s easy to hold my breath
as I watch the news and the minutes tick by without a breath
and my head might feel lighter or heavier
and my heart might feel fluttery
and I’ll wonder why until I remember I haven’t been breathing

I inhale the panic and exhale my wisdom back at the small screen
or do I inhale wisdom and exhale my panic?
the furrowed brows
the measured speech
the limits I’ve never seen imposed in the blessing of a pretty long life.

and in these times
I remember staying with my mom in Karachi
subject to rolling brownouts to manage electricity in the heat
and random targeted killings at western fast food spots.
Snoopy’s ice cream and Burger King or was it Pizza Hut?
and life persisted.
Pervaiz listening to cricket test matches, my mom to Willy Nelson,
shopping in open air markets,
going to the beach in thick night heat to wonder about the nesting turtles

and in these times I’m thinking of so many — already a nervous sort
perhaps stirred toward terror
of not enough and “how will I” and “what if” and “what will happen when”
the un-lived future minute that grows more terrifying
with mounting rates of illness transmission and death

and in these times with even church steeples quiet
perhaps the bellringers have gone home too
of empty pews
the ones who need God’s bath or a pastor, a priest, a rabbi, an imam to steady us
— those who find peace in the widest lens

in these times i remember
I am small and its okay
I can do my best to deliver some cash to a housebound brother,
cheerlead the other as he flies home,
to pay a worker not to come to my house,
to waive rent, to call up the possibly infirm,
to not buy the variety store toilet paper because i still have at least one roll,
to cancel my dream holiday,
to bend where i need to bend in the direction of us all
and to be content, like David Byrne sang,
“I got some groceries, some peanut butter, to last a couple of days”

Laura Sergeant

About Laura Sergeant

Laura Sergeant is a writer and paediatric social worker who specializes in child and youth mental health. She has been published in Please See Me Literary Magazine, Dreamers Creative Writing, as Grit-Lit literary contest first runner-up (2018) and as a finalist for the 2019 Iceland Writers Retreat Competition. Most days she unwinds in her garden. Mortality and CBC podcasts will prevent her from getting through her “must read” book list. This piece was inspired by the “Messy, Beautiful Pages” COVID-19 writing prompts graciously offered by fireflycreativewriting.com She is currently working on a collection of life stories from her home in Hamilton, Ontario.

7 thoughts on “in these times

  1. AvatarJ Henderson

    Lovely. You have a way of putting it all in perspective. By voicing your reality, you help me to expand my awareness of what is tugging at me — noticing more, reflecting, listening to the undertones, exploring the uncomfortable. Thank you for the privilege of reading your work!

    Reply
  2. AvatarNancy Halmos

    Wonderful, Laura. I can just feel you coming through with all your thoughtful eloquence, and the peanut butter part of you too! LOL
    Nancy Halmos

    Reply
  3. AvatarEdith Mackenzie

    So lovely, such beautiful prose that resonates in these times…

    Reply
    1. AvatarLiz Mackenzie

      Thank you so much, Laura, for such a beautiful and very deep poem. I am very moved – and particularly by the words which include me – it is very strange having empty pews and still the need for rabbis, priests, ministers, and imams…
      Be safe and healthy.

      Reply
  4. AvatarLaura Golini

    Hello Laura. This poem demonstrates the depth and awareness you have of your feelings, surroundings, relationships, past and present. It’s reflective and acknowledges the mysterious and uncertain times we live in.
    Best wishes!

    Reply
  5. AvatarSue Kras

    Beautiful and comforting words… in these times.

    Thanks for painting a picture of what we are feeling, and telling us it will be ok.

    Reply
  6. AvatarPam North

    Laura: I love how you reference the difference between the uncertainty in these times vs the uncertainty when the value of life or freedom is threatened in other types of uncertain times.

    Reply

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