The Almanac Questionaire Poem

NaPoWriMo’s prompt for the final Sunday confused me. They do provide a questionaire, not unlike those Proustian ones we used to see asked of celebrities in the Sunday supplements. Almanacs are different things entirely. I used to love the old Farmer’s Almanac’s for its arcane horticultural tips mixed in with astrology and astronomy. That sent me down the rabbit hole of etymology. Almanac is originally derived from Spanish Arabic from the time when the Arab world led mathematics and science, including astronomy, while Europe was still blinking in the Dark Ages. Publication of data and observations eventually lent its name to the annuals like the Farmer’s Almanac and the World Almanac, which so fascinated me in my youth. This data was mostly gobbledygoo to me, but it was actually considered useful information by some people who knew how to interpret the code when it came to planting crops! But then I grew up a townie.

From the questionaire I extracted three that eventually made it into today’s poem: weather, today’s news headline(s), and ‘you walk to the border and you hear…’ There were twenty-two to choose from, but many of my answers were a bit lacklustre. But somedays with NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo, you just pat yourself on the head and tell yourself, “There now. You’ve done it. Now go away and play. Or work. Or nap. Or anything that is not poetry.”

Cloudy Conditions

Scholarly Moors watched night skies intently,
plotting star and planet movements, then
publishing times of future high tides and eclipses.

Who could have predicted the fallout this year
of Saturn's and Pluto's conflict and collision? Or
that they are related in any way to discussions

in the HSE re: plans to increase virus test capacity.
Or how Neptune or maybe even Manannan mac Lir himself
created a virus border down the Irish Sea.

You'd have to be able to walk on water to cross
that frontier border. But you would still get the order
"Stand clear!" and to make sure its two meter standard.

The featured image today is a Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

The Solitude of Social Distancing

It has been some week, hasn’t it?! When contemplating what to write for the Sunday Weekly poem, it felt like it was inevitable that the virus on everyone’s mind would have to be the subject.

But the week was more than just checking in and changing plans and washing hands like we are all Pontius Pilate. Friday was the 58th anniversary of my father’s death. Who, coincidentally, was born in Corona, Queens, New York, and was an toddler during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

I have been posting HumpDay Haiku for the past few weeks. I wrote a senryu on the aniversary of his passing.

I emailed a check in with all my siblings, all over age 65, all considered in the most vulnerable age group. One lives in the Philadelphia suburbs adjacent to the epicentre of the virus in Montgomery County. He is a doctor. And a medical director of a retirement village. Also, a medical professor. Two of his children are teachers . The other brother lives in New York City, which has a State of Emergency. The run on toilet paper meant that his usual grocery delivery service was unable to fulfill this week. My brother-in-law has a medical condition that means they go through a lot. So there was my brother rangeing around stores, most already plundered by people who probably will have a lifetime supply of toilet paper. He came back from that shopping trip on a subway half full. Likely his last trip on public transport for a while.

Thursday brought the announcement of school, university and creche closures in the Republic of Ireland. We live in a remote spot of rural Ireland which now has cancelled Mass and confirmations. During Lent! Funerals are for immediate family only. Given that funerals are such an important social institution in Ireland this is like the seventh impossibility conceived before breakfast.

I wonder if any of the kids will choose St. Corona as a confirmation name?

So for the week ending on the Ides of March, this

The Solitude of Social Distancing

You have nowhere to go.
You can speak remotely,
unless you have no home,
unless you are a refugee.

We can count the benefits,
create our silverlinings
playlist of blessings, until
the day we reckon the cost.

In our isolation
we can begin to contemplate
all our social obligations
in a world the size of a pea, not a plate.

We can pray to the patron saint
of pandemics, or, oddly,
St. Corona, who takes calls
regarding epidemics.

Copyright © Bee Smith 2020. All rights reserved.

In our solitude of social distancing we can do what our grandmothers did – spring clean. Invoke the goddess Hygeia, who volunteered her name to venerate the concept of hygiene.

Thanks for Photo by Joseph Gruenthal on Unsplash that is our featured image.