In this pandemic time
I’m gaining a certain intimacy with the sidewalks in my neighborhood
Learning where the uneven-nesses are,
Where the sudden differences in elevation have caused my downfall
And might again
If I happen to not be paying attention,
Looking up at the clouds for instance as I’m given to.
Usually I head west up Judson Avenue and then decide at Edna Street
Whether I turn left or right.
Usually I turn right, but not always.
At each intersection, Edna and Staples, Edna and Flood, Edna and Hearst
I’ll have another decision to make.
Right or Left. Or straight ahead.
I insist on going outside.
On pounding pavement.
Even though I have two yards. One in front. One in back.
So much more than many.
Where I can see nature — trees, sky, earth
Scattered flowers, the occasional squirrel or bird
To go outside my tiny realm of house and two yards is
To remember what freedom once felt like,
A certain intimacy with, and thirst for the unknown.
Some times now I think of Aung San Suu Kyi
Who spent 15 years in house arrest
I thought then how terrible
All the while she was at risk
The Burmese military might do worse things to her
But then she became a powerful government official
And fell from a high place, from grace
Because of what happened to the Rohingya people
While she defended the military
It’s hard to know what’s happening in the next neighborhood
When I’m on house arrest.
Even when I’m not.
Let alone what’s happening in every city, in every state, in every country around the world.
Plenty of injustices.
I was born with or conditioned to have radar for
This sort of thing. Injustice, I mean. Crimes.
Against Jews. Against children. Against girls.
Against peoples. Rohingya.
The Poor. The Other.
Even though I’m not literally on house arrest
And even though I’m not going to be held accountable by anyone
For the deaths my government is directly and indirectly causing
Still I hold myself to account
Sometimes I offer a pardon.
I administer mental lashes for privilege and selfishness.
Then I re-consider and gently discuss self-care options with my self
I consider how
My life might make a difference
If I do this and not that, or that and not this
I calculate risk on a daily basis
Just how safe is it for me to go to the grocery store today?
Perhaps wait a day, or three? Or a week.
There is an abundance of factors to consider.
By early afternoon, I’m exhausted.
Some days I just wake up that way.
I have a routine of sorts.
I get up early.
Morning meditation, bird and weather report.
From my back porch.
I text my report to my daughter in New York who isn’t on Facebook.
I get on the floor for morning stretches.
I call my hundred year old Mom.
They have closed the dining hall. Ended all activities, Removed the chairs
From the once welcoming lobby
Her caregiver just gave a few weeks notice.
In collaboration with my sister, I spend hours on the phone trying to sort all this.
I make my self three meals a day.
Eat varying quantities of snacks.
Usually too many.
I wash dishes and my hands again and again.
I clean countertops.
I read a little.
I write less.
I contemplate a lot.
I study the medical and social aspects of The Virus.
I name our president The Other Virus, Covfefe-19.
I try to keep my distance from him too.
In the afternoon, I go for a walk in the neighborhood.
Every day I am in search of Beauty.
I know it will save me.
Even though I will die eventually — sooner or later
Not dying isn’t what saves me.
Seeing Beauty and taking pictures of it does.
I social distance
I keep a six foot perimeter.
I’m gaining a lot of intimacy with the sidewalks in my neighborhood.
And a certain intimacy with the world.
As It is now.
As I am now.