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WORDS FROM FRIENDS

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA VIII

Great root seeking life at Canyon de Chelly

The presence of the life force all around us ceaselessly amazes me. Plants that appear dead revive with a little water and cutting back. Trees in the Southwest send forth astounding root systems to gather moisture from a crack in the rocks. Media most commonly present the rising death toll from COVID-19, but the percentage of recoveries far outstrips the deaths: 79% of people with confirmed cases are recovering, which means 21% die (Worldometer Corona Virus Statistics). Both numbers are probably higher, because these figures only reflect confirmed cases. It is a human survival strategy to note the negative—a holdover from the flight/fight response in our long-ago ancestors. I don't ignore the seriousness of this pandemic, and that is probably why media continue mostly to emphasize the deaths—to keep us alert and careful. But I am choosing hope, also—noting daily the numbers and stories of recovery. Noting the vast majority of people I know who are staying home and otherwise using smart precautions.

 

I am also, because it is spring, noticing the prodigious resurgence of life, as the trees green and green and green, the tiny purple flowers most consider weeds burst into the sunlight. Cambodians wait until spring to celebrate the New Year, which will be on April 14-16 this year, although it won't be celebrated due to strict quarantine observation [edited]. Because newness of life is so evident in this season, humans have ever celebrated the return of life in springtime—the lunar New Year, Easter, Beltane. Maybe with greater verve this year than in many years, we are grateful for life that comes on the heels of winter and also follows death.

 

Sometimes new life in the natural world is cradled in the death of another being, as in "The Rabbit," by Mary Oliver from Three Rivers Poetry Journal.

 

THE RABBIT

 

Scatterghost,

it can't float away.

And the rain, everybody's brother,

won't help. And the wind all these days

flying like ten crazy sisters everywhere

can't seem to do a thing. No one but me,

and my hands like fire,

to lift him to a last burrow. I wait

 

days while the body opens and begins

to boil. I remember

 

the leaping in the moonlight, and can't touch it,

wanting it miraculously to heal

and spring up

joyful. But finally

 

I do. And the day after I've shoveled

the earth over, in a field nearby

 

I find a small bird's nest lined pale

and silvery and the chicks—

 

are you listening, death?—warm in the rabbit's fur.

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