Plans to post reviews of poetry collections by my friends were thwarted by a mild case of Covid, contracted during a short stay in Charleston, North Carolina. Also thwarted were plans to sight a painted bunting! But I am by no means complaining: for me it was just a scratchy throat and lots of coughing. I remember the early days of what we called Coronavirus, when we thought it would only last a few months, and the numbers were terrifying, and lots of us were writing poems about it.
How I Dealt With It
I bought myself tulips. Purple, pink, and yellow. I put them in vases all over the house: in the dining room, in the bedroom, and in both bathrooms. All my most frequently-visited rooms. I admired them every day. They cheered me up. But then they began to wither, as living things do. Normally I would have thrown them out and bought new ones, but in this time of coronavirus, we were supposed to stay inside unless we really needed something, like food. So I trimmed their stems and changed the water, even though I knew I could not restore their health. I noticed that as each day passed, their colors became deeper, richer. Delicate dark veins streaked the base of the petals, which grew thin and twisty and brittle, and finally curled and dropped off, landing gently in a pile, revealing the inner tulip: the still-moist pistil standing tall, almost obscene in shape and vigor, surrounded by a circle of anther-tipped stamen. The tulip’s brain, where, until now, all the decisions about color and size had been made; where the mechanics of reproduction and survival had been orchestrated. Still, I did not throw them out. Because as death closed in, the more beautiful they became to me. I’ve heard it said that beauty fades, but I think beauty just changes form. I’m so grateful that I got to be with them as they died. I hope they didn’t suffer too much.