By Susan Hand
PROMPT — During COVID-19 ...
We were told to stay home. Shelter in place.
Not venture abroad except for essentials,
and we were told what those were: food and drugs, period.
And what of love and people and places and theater and sport and rocks and cockatiels and manatees and waterfalls?
We are told these things could kill us and we suppose it is true.
But we have to say that to do without our “circus animals,” as the grieving poet puts it,
kills us too, though more slowly.
And the enemy, a whirling globe with flowerlike spikes,
almost pretty, almost fun-looking,
is still mostly unknown, despite all the talk and study of it,
so that we dream of fighting it and conquering it, but, months in,
and hundreds of thousands dead, conquest is still just a dream.
Meanwhile we nervously eye the TV
and still despite all the jibber-jabber
we haven’t penetrated those whirling flower-dotted war machines
that must be the product of a demonic brain,
we haven’t unlocked their fearful secret
so that we may unlock our doors
and be free again for the cockatiels and the waterfalls and
what in our youth we loved innocently and without limit.
Sue Hand has been a writer for nearly five decades, with only a handful of publications, but with the dedication, she believes, of a published writer. She wrote novels and short stories, mostly, with a little critical writing and memoir and poetry thrown in. Sue taught writing of various kinds, and modern literature for many years, but writing has been her passion and free writing is always the greatest of pleasures. Many times during her career, she has done free-writing—for a class she was in for five years, where they made it their chief practice (the best class she ever took)—and also in several writing groups. Sue grew up in New Jersey and now lives on the North Shore of Boston, MA with my husband Jack, with whom, from time to time, she does free-writes at the breakfast table.