I need to give you fair warning. The prompt for Day 25 is long and complicated. It did not give me much scope for compression. It also asks you to pack a lot of various elements into a single space. “The prompt, which you can find in its entirety here, was developed by the poet and teacher Hoa Nguyen, asks you to use a long poem by James Schuyler as a guidepost for your poem.” I invite you to click on ‘here’ and see the vastness of the spec. You are welcome to count up how many I managed into the poem. It is, by necessity, long. I am posting a bit later because, yes, today is a laundry day. I have been jumbling my routine slightly to relay between first draft, admiring husband’s handiwork at putting up the new washing line, washing items, hanging out, and then cracking on to second/third draft. The title is an echo of James Schuyler’s own ‘Hymn to Life.’ I plead for the reader’s patience. It is a lot of words for me.
A Hymn to Life in Lockdown This is my new routine: I wake, grateful, and take a few deep breaths. Go visit the toilet. Then heed the plaintive pleas of hungry cats. I let the dogs out for their pees. The kettle boils for my tea. I pick up my rosary beads and then say seven decades of "All shall be well. All will be well. All manner of things shall be well. We are enfolded in Holy Mother Love." All the while picking at those beads restlessly. My mind strays to ways of obtaining things I want to eat, but are not available within two kilometres of me. I see some jackdaws pick at the suet balls as a golden light plays on the willow tree. In the distance, I hear some unidentified feathered species go cheep-cheep. It is sunny. The sky is a clear blue, which means that it must be a laundry day. The washing machine is bust, so I hand wash in the kitchen sink. I put socks on my hands like mittens and suds them up for the new routine twenty seconds. I gauge my strength. Not a day for duvet covers or sheets. It is probably a day for knickers, socks, tea towels. And maybe scrubbing the husband’s garden denims. I am reverie-ing. Time to get some writing done. This can take up a few solid hours before breakfast. Or lunch. Before the distractibility of social media. Then I walk the dogs. It is 2,500 steps to the holy well and back again. I call in to chat with the statue of Mary, tell her the news, say my please and thank yous. Also, if she can hold the hands (metaphysically, you understand) of the dying since nobody else can. The flower posy before Our Lady is still fresh. The purple tulips and grape hyacinths seem to be holding up though the pale narcissi is withering. On our way back home I count all the new species that have popped up overnight, like the dog violets. I BAAA! back at a cross mother sheep whose little lambie has strayed too near to the road’s hedge. Our neighbour’s dog Susie barks at their boundary line. This gives the old dogs their daily excitement. I wave up the hill to the neighbours and we yell across twenty meters. I carry on. What’s for dinner? What can I make that I actually want to taste? Now I put on my magic piny to innovate recipes while washing a mound of crockery that’s accumulated. My hands are rough and dry. I am out of hand cream. Will organic coconut oil do? Conceive a menu, immune system boosting, as well as tasty. Will tuna casserole be a win… or shall I bake cookies? No – nutrition first. Dessert last. In the kitchen I flick through You Tube audiobooks of Golden Age crime and videos on tarot. I ration the news for well before dinner. Thereafter, I ring my friend in England each night just after 8. She finally has had her pneumonia jab. They were out of stock last winter. She’s feeling flop. I sympathise. She tells me the odd comfort of a nurse in full battledress and riot shield mask for one who had been at the barricades in the 1970s and 1980s. After ringing off I settle down and think maybe some comedy is the remedy… find Vicar of Dibley. But that only reminds me that poor, daft Alice is dead (the actress who played her that is). I begin to knit or start stitching some hand sewn face masks from patchwork off cuts. I send them off in envelopes to so many hot spots. My brother in Brooklyn answers his phone "Corona Central." How many ways can I say "I love you." Is the orange with white spots too jokey or not camp enough? This is his second plague. I feel like once again some angel has brushed rusty ram’s blood on the lintel of our family’s door. This is my new routine. Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.
Finding an image to put with this post was a bit of a challenge. There are so many images. In then end, this coffee mug saying ‘Begin’ spoke to my condition. Image is a Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash