Standard Tuning for Social Isolation

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Shut indoors in the middle of a pandemic / you would think it would be quiet / but my two young children are yelling over nothing/the phone is ringing with relatives / updates from the school board / conference calls I can’t bear to pay attention to/outside—a siren, then two / emails and voicemails with urgent missives / the manufactured hysteria surrounding both deadlines and tasks roars in my ears / I long to reply with … Really? Is this REALLY important? What’s going to happen if I don’t do this by 5pm? What? NOTHING. That’s what / but instead my keys plink in soothing staccato tones / I promise results

I type long FB msgs to worried friends / tell amusing stories about my kids to cheer them up / post heartwarming videos / memes and always reply to comments / read all the new government updates / I’m on on on / I write the book chapter that is overdue to my publisher / attend a webinar and make sure to contribute / prepare my upcoming keynote / write grocery lists / supply lists / telephone lists / deliver essential items to those that need them / make sure to exercise and drink lots of water / cook all three meals from scratch / oversee my sons’ cello and piano practices / the house is filled with music

We walk in the woods and I point out to my children this / this is lungwort / if mummy gets sick and can’t stop coughing go into the forest and bring this home and we’ll brew tea / I show them how to use the stove / remind them to feed the chickens / I talk and sing and holler up the stairs / I type and write until the pencil makes dents in my hands and still I can’t say what I need to / can’t get to the place where anything feels right / where my internal tuning fork hits pitch

I tuck them into bed / stand in my studio / tug on the thread of an unfinished shirtdress / something I was making to wear to an office I can no longer go to / to impress people I no longer see

I sew the buttons on anyway / my hands sit in my lap / I don’t weep / I just feel the weight and beauty of the silence / I am comfortable here / when I finally stop talking I can hear my own voice

About Jenn Carson

Jenn Carson is the author of Get Your Community Moving: Physical Literacy Programs for All Ages (ALA, 2018) which was released to critical acclaim, including a starred review in School Library Journal. She is also the author of Yoga and Meditation at the Library: A Practical Guide for Librarians, as well as many academic articles and book chapters. In 2019, she was named by Library Journal as a Mover & Shaker and presented with the Atlantic Provinces Library Association Advocacy Award for her writing on movement-based programs in libraries. In addition to her non-fiction work she has had 33 poems published in journals and anthologies. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award (poetry). In 2018, she was labelled by Amplify East as a "remarkable woman making a difference in Atlantic Canada” and in 2019 she was nominated for the Best New Poets anthology. She is currently at work on a story about winter surfing in the Maritimes for [Edit] Magazine.

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