This is my fifth poem of the online retreat. It is in two parts, one for each of the two prompts.
I woke up this morning
with my mask fallen away
I know I toss and turn sometimes at night—
what is that, anyway?
The usual aches and pains took a rest
along with the news of the day
It’s the same thing, over and over—
what is that, anyway?
But I’m not ready to awaken
so I close my eyes and drift off
The show I recorded last night plays to the end
but I don’t even remember a commercial
A half-hour later, I try it again
half-heartedly following along
while fighting to keep my eyes open
Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques,
I suppose now that the question
of a resting place is settled
I’m ready to take a break, too
The sound of new mail
pricks me out of my drowse
It’s nothing that concerns me
I listen to Prince musing about Dorothy Parker
and pick my mask up off the floor
Maybe I’m not going anywhere today
but I could be persuaded to change my mind
if I don’t have to get out of the car
The sky is grey
and I think it might rain
I’ll have to check the mailbox first
I’m expecting something to arrive—
nothing special, mind you
For now, I think I’ll just close my eyes
and enjoy the quiet
Today is the eighteenth day of autumn.
I don’t think anybody has checked the gauge today,
though they are showing us the wind speed at the bottom of the screen.
We seem to be all over the place,
from bleeding profusely to completely battened down.
If there’s a cost, it must be incalculable—
nobody’s got that kind of capacity.
An engine running in the red will either fail
or explode, regardless of displacement.
I’m having trouble figuring it out myself.
I tangle with optimism and pessimism
in a no-holds-barred grudge match
that frequently leaves us exhausted—
but the bell has yet to ring,
so we endure.
I wasn’t expecting an endurance race;
my limit these days is about a mile and a half
before I’m ready to go back home,
where I can enjoy the cool, crisp breeze
while contemplating everything
that is going to keep me awake
until well into the night
before sleep overtakes me.
(Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques,
Of course, I’ve forgotten to check the gauge,
so I have only the wind speed of Hurricane Delta
to go by.
Maybe a whirlwind storm is what I need
to discover how much the heart can hold.
(9 October 2020)
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