As we return to normal, I’m seeing lots of signs of people forgetting. It’s human nature, of course, to want to forget pain and sorrow and fear. Part of our makeup as a species. But I had big hopes we could come through this more together than ever. That’s the poet in me, always wanting to be optimistic even when reality nips my heels like an annoying chihuahua.
Anyway, this poem has been on here before, but never like this. It’s in my book of illustrated poetry UnSong, also.
We could do this, you know. Normality as we once knew it is gone. The slate really could be wiped clean (with a Clorox wipe) and we could begin something extraordinary, if we wanted to do it. I don’t think we will right now because you need a visionary leader to accomplish such a thing, probably more than one. And I haven’t seen many visionaries recently. But right now while the slate is erased, I can’t help but contemplate the possibilities.
Everything feels wrong now, and it seems that everyone is trying to quantify it and box it up and make it what they’ve always known. “Don’t judge people if you see them not wearing a mask or taking their kids out or trying to go back to work—you don’t know what they’re going through,” say some. This is true. But it does not escape my sense of fairness that some of these people are the same ones who are quick to judge those who take their families and flee from death and poverty in other countries. Don’t judge them, either. You don’t know what they’ve gone through.
We all want to go back to “normal”, but I don’t think we’re ever going to get back there from here. We’ll go back to some semblance of day-to-day life, but I believe what scifi writers have been warning us about—that some event would come along eventually that would change us forever—has finally happened. Where we go from here is really up to us. We can remain politically divided with half of us in denial about our doom and the other half constantly lecturing about it—or we can unite and fight for survival. I pray we opt to find the best in all of us when we declare victory over this virus…and return to “normal”.
It’s so tempting to think everything’s fine. The kids are home from school, sure, but that’s happened before. They always go back. Downtown is mostly empty and the restaurants are all closed but hey, that happens whenever we get half an inch of snow or ice. And yeah, people are having to cancel dream vacations and the stock market is tanking, and nobody is going to parties or play dates or visiting grandparents…no, everything’s not fine.
Eventually it will be, though. We’ll pick up the pieces, but I think we’ll pick up a few other things at the same time. A new appreciation for a hug from a friend, for instance. Less reluctance to get up and take the kids to school in the morning. A newfound faith in life and whatever power has helped us get through it all.
Yes, eventually it will be all right again.
All Right Again
By Michelle Garren Flye
When we pick up the pieces again, what will find there?
Can we put them together the way they were,
Or will it become something wholly new?
For some will be missing, little pieces torn away.
Lost in the big picture of our new normalcy.
What will it be like, this mishmash of bits?
When we turn it shiny side up, will enough be left?