The plague by Rebecca Reid

Photo by Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a member of Straw Dog, a farmer and writer living in Leverett on a cooperative farm.  She has never submitted anything for publication, except a poem when she was 8 that was rejected by The New Yorker, but the time has come.

The plague

Among the ways
to see this time, I like
the crucible best.
The plague is all there is.

I am of multiple minds. Fear
lurking in corners, but excitement
and anticipation sweeps them out.
This is real.

A sickness swirling like a weather system
on the currents of air, into our lungs, too much
to hold. This mirrors what we’ve done
to our only planet.

We and our planet
live and die together.
Such intimacy such love.

Do we look backward to retrieve our world
or do we look ahead to a new one?
Will I be here?

We have entered the space of the gods
the great unknowing, the liminal gap
the dark night, the pregnant pause.
What will be born?

Why do you distract yourself?
Why do you long to go back?
Can’t you see the soft pale light
of the new day? The tapping of the
footsteps of infinite possibility?

You tell me this is too hard.
When things change,
there is always suffering.
The ground resists the plow
does the plow resist the ground?

When this is over, we will look around
and see what’s left and what’s
here. New life rising from the dark dirt
of pain.

At the sight of so much death,
who wouldn’t pale in fear?
At the sight of so much birth
who wouldn’t whoop with joy?

We’ve tried for years to take
this disaster seriously, mistaking
invisibility for security. Now this tiny
invisible thing shouts it loud enough to hear.
Wake up!

The plague moves through us
so inclusive, so indiscriminate
we finally see that we
are all blood and lungs
painted in different colors.

Here we sit, alone, in the pause
that resets. People die. People live.
The plague watches over us, like a parent
watching a child finally walk off into the world.