IT TAKES A PANDEMIC (and other poems)

by Barbara Macklowe

Why did it take
a pandemic
for me to see?
I thought I could see.
I was constantly
looking through
the viewfinder,
to see the world,
to see people,
to see nature,
to see you.

I never turned
the camera
on myself.
What’s a selfie?
I didn’t really want
to see myself.

Oh I look at myself
to see my positive
and negative qualities
and how I can improve.
I know how to self
examine.
I’ve been working on
me for a lifetime.

But to see myself,
the me unseen
the me unheard,
the me of my early
childhood.
The me of my life
as mother and wife,
as grandmother and
friend, as entrepreneur.

It took a pandemic for
me to raise my voice
in song,
for you to hear me,
for you to see me.
It took a pandemic
for me to truly
see myself.

Now I am heard.
Now I am seen.
Now I am discovering
the me that was there
all along and hid from
sound and view.

When I’m lost
you find me.
When I’m beaten,
you shore me up.
When I’m happy
you join in to share it,
when I show my love
you revel in my
vulnerability.
When my words sound
different and strange
you assure me that they
are strong and worthy
and that they are
beautiful.

I was so unsure of myself
when my eye first sought
pictures. Were they good?
Were they stimulating?
Were they different enough
to be considered gallery
worthy? Did people really
want to look at them? Of
course they were,
and they did,
and they do.
They are a reflection
of me that only the
photographer in me
can express.

Never do they have the
impact of words.
The pictures are
abstract and don’t tell
the entire story. Writing
exposes my soul in ways
unknown to me before.
My writing, like my
picture-making, is
really for me to see.
My eyes open wide
and I sing with my pen.

WHO WAKES UP THE SUN WHEN IT FALLS ASLEEP ON ITS BURNING BED

Who wakes up the sun when
it falls asleep on its burning bed?
The dark sky nudges the sun,
“Make yourself seen.
Don’t you know it’s time for
day?”
“The moon is on the wane
and really needs to rest
in order to move on to a
place other than here.”

The stars poke the sun
with their pointy edges.
“Move along move along”
they continue, “Our night
must follow day elsewhere
and it is moving west.
To keep up the pace
we stars must join the night.
Please observe your
duty and wake up.”

“You know,
Your Gorgeousness,
you big bright hot thing,
the world needs you.
The plants and animals
need you and the
people do too.”
“To feel your warmth,
to see your light,
to grow
and perform
as they can only do
with your
mighty presence.”

“Don’t be a laggard”
says the moon,
“I must move
the oceans
and the year along.
It’s your turn to cast
light and to bring
on the day.”

“The entire world looks
forward to the day.
When a new day dawns
hope returns to all
from knowing
that more will be
revealed. And
that they have lived
to see another day,
to bask in its glory
and be encouraged
by its power.”

“The birds have awakened
and are squawking at your
reticence.” “We need your
light and guidance” they
say, “We require your
light to see berries on bushes
and movement in
the ocean and sky. Our
nourishment resides there
and is necessary
for us to live.”

“You bring life, you big
bold orange ball. Wake up!
Wake up! Get out of bed
and serve. It’s your duty
and you must rise.
The weatherman
said so on channel 5.”

GOODBYE SHE SAID

Goodbye she said.
Goodbye he answered.
‘Til we meet again, she said.
Yes, ‘til we meet again, he agreed.

And so he took a plane to NY.
And she stayed behind in FL
knowing that he would return
within a few weeks time.
Their new love a much
treasured gift, for each had
loved and lost a partner
in the past. This love, a
delicate flower bloomed
unexpectedly in a chance
meeting through a friend.
It was fresh and new, full
of deep feelings
engendering the past
and promising
for the future.

Meanwhile a pandemic of
epic proportions was
emanating from
China and Europe
and entering our
shores through
the many gateways
to the United States.
It became a plague upon
New York.

He stayed well
and away from all
the others he had come
to see on this trip,
friends, family
and business associates.
All manner of meetings
were now cancelled.
His life became a
narrow one lost
in a hotel room downtown.
He mourned their
missed hours together
and was determined to stay
only a short time and leave
as soon as it was safe.
When would safety ever come
he mused?

This computer as life is not
life at all. Just a copycat.
Machinery becoming life like.
When did it come to this? It’s like
a premonition, a foreboding, a
suspicion that the end might be
arriving before it was ushered in.

She stayed home. She thought
of him and their tender beginnings.
Where will it take them?
Would there be a future for them?
She got a call from a sick friend
who needed medicine and food.
So she brought her tender loving
self and the medicine and food
and wiped the perspiring brow.

The next day she spoke to him
on the phone and began coughing.
Her breath was coming in gasps.
He begged her to dial
911 and get to the hospital.
She begged him to return.
She called 911 but there was no
bed available in the hospital.
They told her to stay home and
if it got worse to go to the
Emergency Room.

The ambulances passed by
in screams every few minutes.
She tried to treat herself at home.
He called to tell her how much
he loved her.
She didn’t hear the ring.
She did not return his call.
She died thinking of their love
and of her lightly said goodbye.

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