Who, in the English speaking world, has not read Charles Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities at some point during their teens? It was a set text when I was in 10th grade in the early 1970s. But that was a world ago. Do teenagers know Sidney Carton’s heroic speech these days? At any rate, those opening sentences resonate with this year. Well, some may not be feeling it for the former, but the tale of those two cities does illustrate how that sentence can be true.
We are not quite a week into Ireland’s second lockdown, which we are told will last until 1st December. In truth, I barely registered that it was a bank holiday in the Republic yesterday and it almost escaped me that today is Tuesday. I nearly forgot that today is the day I post a weekly blog. And ideally, a new poem.
What emerged is very rough and raw. It is a monument only to my commitment to keep up the practice. It is not for want of idleness. I have a couple projects in train with only twelve days off between the end of my Zoom Short Fiction workshop in October and the Poetry one that starts the first week in November. I am currently writing a e-course provisionally titled A Light in the Window: A 21 Day Journey Through December’s Dark Days. The plan is for participants who register to get a daily reflection and journal prompt in their email inbox for twenty-one days. As a bonus, there is a Sunday Zoom ‘Virtual Fireside’ where participants can check in, share and companion one another as we journal and journey our way to winter solstice. Watch this space for full details to get released early in November.
I also have a grant proposal to write before 6th November, as well as prep for the Poetry workshops in November. So I may be living in splendid isolation, but I am far from idle. The side of my brain that engages with prose is more active at the moment. It felt like I had to wrench it bit to get it into gear for the draft of poem that follows. Or there may be two poems inside this particular draft. I have not got the bandwidth to decide today! Only some revision time will allow for me to decide. But that may not be until Yuletide!
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times Which, in truth, tremulously hover between terror and hope. Just this year we said goodbye to the Indian cheetah the Sumatran rhino, turtles, paddlefish, macaws. Perhaps we only truly feel grateful once we have destroyed, then indulge in nostalgia. We mourn with crocodile tears from a croc with a ticking clock inside. We will only know them as figures in the illustrated guide to ecocide, or as shadows behind the rice paper sliding door separating us from our own transmutation into hungry ghosts wandering, not knowing that our life – the old life- with its morning rites like tea and toast or coffee and brioche has gone. We can only watch it, looking from outside in through the steamed up glass of a transport caff. Once there was a child who dimpled as it smiled for no particular reason, flexing its thigh muscles as it got used to the their power as they bounced up and down for the admiration of a doting giant. Once that child twirled itself round and round before hurling itself onto the grassy ground to feel the pull of the world as it revolved on its skewed axis. And it knew happiness as it watched cloud and sky fly past. Perhaps it was always thus. That only when we sacrifice for the sake of love do we know the best in the worst and time stops being relevant. That then there is only Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And We miss you. We miss you. We miss you. Copyright ©Bee Smith 2020. All rights reserved.
Featured image Photo by Daniel Joshua on Unsplash