What Has Happened to Us?

I’ve just finished reading Imperfect Heart: a Journal, a Book club, and a Global Pandemic, a good writer friend’s* as yet unpublished chronical of the Covid pandemic. A blend of non-fiction and fiction, the book opens in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic, leads up to the January 6th attempted coup, and ends in December 2021. The author begins this vivid re-creation of those months with a profound sense that we will never again be the same. As I looked around the group of neighbors gathered for our 4th of July picnic for the first time in three years, those words came back to me with a jolt. We have aged—and not only in years; we looked stricken. The holiday had lost its carefree exuberance, and though we welcomed the reunion, everyone there was coming from a different place.

Today I looked back through early blogs to see if I could capture some clearer sense of what we’ve lost and came across this very short blog written March 29th, 2013.


The Tattered Eagle: A Snippet Triggered by a Window

This blog falls into the category of snippets–bits and pieces triggered by pictures, writing prompts, incidents–anything that brings pen to hand.  One of my favorite triggers when I was teaching was a book called WINDOWS: A Feast for the Eye and the Imagination, by Val Clery, https://www.amazon.com/Windows-A-Feast-Eye-Imagination/dp/0770515835/re). A window gives a peek–imagine what lays beyond, and it never failed to stimulate the writing hands of my students—and me. The picture below, by John Visser, brought my snippet, a first draft  poem.

The Tattered Eagle

Behind this curtain,
A one-legged old man
Cooks up ribs and potatoes
 for his supper.

Born in a tenant farmer’s hut,
With little but brawn
to go on with,
He served his country
 without question.

On the wall,
hangs a purple heart.
Heart and eagle,
 the markers of his life,
Now long past.

The war forgotten.
Now the tattered eagle
 keeps out the jeers of passing boys
Who have not yet gone to war.



Today, thrown against the images of the attack on the Capitol, I don’t know where I would find the compassion that drives this poem. I would like it back.


*Toni Fuhrman, Only Yesterday, A Windless Place, and more. 

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