Anita Pulier: “A Quarantine Crown of Sonnets”

This can’t be love, because I feel so well….
Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart

For Myron

I

Recently your early morning rambles
are interlaced with rhetorical questions.
This domestic Socratic method is new.
At first I attempted to answer,
but now remain silent, allow
your questions to remain orphaned,
keep a close watch,
remind myself how I love
your thick gray hair, white stubbly beard,
wildly observant brain.
Frozen with fear of loss I lean in,
focus on your new gravelly voice,
amazed that after so long I am still
nourished by every unanswered word.

II

I lean in, focus on your new gravelly voice,
amazed that after so long I am still
nourished by every unanswered word.
I hear you say “Let’s take a walk”.
Our daily chance to escape quarantine
has taken on new dimensions.
Cameras, binoculars and sketch pads are
gathered, straps casually strung
around your neck, looped over a shoulder.
or stuffed into a backpack.
I smile at your determined attempt
to capture the intangible.
I remind myself to recalibrate,
celebrate the joy of witnessing.

III

I remind myself to recalibrate,
celebrate the joy of witnessing,
Perhaps that is our challenge.
A shared lifetime of careers, children,
births and deaths, family events,
now morphed into a reflective pool,
memories distorted by viral isolation
as the focus has changed.
Your quest to capture the moment,
snap a photo, zoom in on a murder
of crows, sketch that perfect rose,
as we view the world together.
I take your outstretched hand and think
we can do this, we can do this.

IV

I take your outstretched hand and think
we can do this, we can do this.
Of course, we both know there is
no salvation promised the godless.
Wisdom gingerly sneaks up
tips its hat, refuses to compromise.
We grovel and bow to what we know
is true, apologize to the burning planet,
racial injustice, viral isolation.
So little time left to fix any of this.
We embrace hope and focus on the kids.
Their universe is still young
not really worried about us.

V

Their universe is still young
not really worried about us.
Have we aged or are we old?
No, my darling it is not the same.
One a journey, the other arrival.
Have you noticed that along the way
the speed limit has been raised?
So much is passing in a blur.
It’s a lot to sort, the past, the present,
the fear of missing out on
a diminished coveted future.
I propose we face down
the inevitable, quiet its roar and
feed ourselves delicious sweets.

VI

I propose we face down
the inevitable, quiet its roar and
feed ourselves delicious sweets.
Let’s grow fat in this bubble and hover
like balloons over the chaos.
We can excuse ourselves by playing the age card
or rely on the look at all we have accomplished
and resting on our laurels cards.
Even the closet, jammed with unworn clothes
offers an illusive opportunity to re-set,
but in quarantine, dressing to please?
I consider sitting on the floor in the middle of
this hangared community, explaining
what it really means to grow old.

VII

I consider sitting on the floor in the middle of
this hangared community, explaining
what it really means to grow old.
But that would require redefining
the concept of closet and the secrets
they hold, which is when I wonder if
I have been cooped up too long and
put rambling love poems aside,
return to cutting and chopping vegetables,
pour you a glass of wine and listen intently,
hoping to hear an elaborate toast to undying love,
instead I hear you casually say “Cheers,”
and sit down to read the paper. I am hungry,
return to the kitchen to assemble a stew
out of leftovers. Delicious. Nourishing.

***

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(Photo credit: Myron Pulier)

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