P A N D E M I C 2020 by Ellen Dibble

Ellen Dibble: I write mostly for children.  I haven’t figured out a way to approach the many, many publishers, but write what I call skeletons of picture books, and skeletons of tiny skits for classes to find words for, by Zoom or otherwise.

P A N D E M I C   2020 

The lens of the computer screen flickers, filters the entire world.

Do eyes crush the light like this?  No, but lungs do that, they say, when most crunched by the virus, or the overreaction to it, the cytokine storm, which can go wild.  They rasp till they are sandy, worn down.

The sands of time flow at a pace the retrace here does not know well.  A whole career can go bust, like a mandala on the shore, the whole computer with it, like a sneeze, and somehow the world is not stirred.  Watch me, snowy Everest.

Lucky ones are prepared.  There’s enough rice on hand to last till June.  It’s not enough.  The backup of everything matters a lot.  What a luxury.

And then it takes an afternoon to replenish stamps.  Who knew?

But the great consolation, besides the lens I mentioned, the eye of my Proto Laptop 2, is the revelation of the infinite om, the one, the way we breathe like the great white whale, spouting in spurts of exuberance, then diving again, to come up resupplied.

The thinking of the human race is mediated by the minds online, and maybe by phones.  I wouldn’t know.

I let mine go, overwhelmed, amazed, and broken, ill, sigh, but all that passes.

The pulse is boosted now by Zoom.  And Chat has ways of laughing in the still silence.  In ways we are deaf to in this om, this tone, but not alone.

We tune to a tone with heartbeat, breath, and words.  And I, a grain of sand in this tide, let myself be tossed and thrown, feeding myself with music, books, to prepare to pitch myself right back in, to confront the vibrant world, one that does not mind when I’m away.

At length the building here starts to meet as if for Sunday dinner, to chat and share.  The porch is wide, and anyone is welcome to be there.

And families find their ways to congregate, overriding useless divisions from before, half a century or so, perhaps, some instated by folks now dead.  We skip the abyss, a ghostlike naught, Rip Van Winkle-wise.   Right now is now, and now we are here.  The screen winks, and I wonder if this is a cataract or an artifact of technology – or imagination touching hands with the World Soul.