After Charlottesville

//After Charlottesville

After Charlottesville

By Nancy Dunlop

And may one be
happy in the face of bad things?
And may one make
art or knit or bake a bundt cake in the face of bad things?
And may one have a hopeful
meditative life, a restful prayer life, an active inner life in the face of bad things?
And may one laugh, make jokes in the face of bad things?
Is one allowed to have a sense of humor,
keep her charming, darling self alive and thriving,
in the face of bad things?
And may one take a walk, looking at the princely tops of
the white pines, remembering
the bald eagles over the lake, bulleting across the sky,
instead of reading another
article, another perspective, another call
to action, in the face of bad things? Is one
allowed to delete the emails screaming
“URGENT! We need YOU more than ever!
We haven’t heard from you, in a while. LOOK
at what just happened, NOW.”
May one skip the upcoming March Against Whatever-It-Is-Today because
she is tired, just
tired. And distressed by all the distress. Just for today,
may one keep her
dental appointment, go about her business, hold on to that
deep and abiding
crush on George Harrison in the face of bad things?
May one let down her guard in the face of bad things and feel safe doing so?
Or how about this:
Can one be outraged, scream, hurl
curses like fire balls from her mouth, be a dragon and a good person all at once?
And while we’re at it, can one feel
simple, straightforward outrage, all the while knowing she has privileges others do not?
Is one allowed to own her fury, even with her blind spots?
Or how about this, and this sounds dangerous: May one just let things
be, in the face of bad things?
May one seek silence for a little while, without
feeling complicit in enabling bad things?
May one feel love for some very specific reason or person or animal or love
for no reason at all, in the face of bad things?
May one maintain a sense of wonder in the face of bad things, a sense of yearning, of
eros, of beauty too large to encompass, in the face of bad things?
Can one hear past the static of bad things? See past the constant
interruptions of bad things?
May one write poems
about, say, one’s mother, or that young grackle at the feeder, which have
nothing to do with some kind of bearing witness to bad things?
Is one willing to be censured
but speak up anyway in the face of bad things?
Is one willing to make a fuss at a quiet dinner party
in the face of bad things?
May the poet claim oracular sanity in the face of bad things? 
May she say, “I see you,
more than you see yourself”?
May she see what she sees and say, “This is my truth and it is valid”?
Is one willing to be yelled down
by a cop in the face of bad things? Is one willing to be shoved
to the pavement? To be imprisoned for pushing back in the face of bad things?
Is one brave enough to put the sign back up
at the end of the driveway
in the face of bad things?
May one not smile back, although she was groomed to do so,
in the face of bad things?
Is one allowed to dance for two hours a day
in the face of bad things? Or pet the cat, losing all track
of time?
Can one maintain her mental fortitude, her faculties, her intellect, her sense of purpose, of moral compass, her connection to Source
in the face of bad things?
Does one need to forgive one who does bad things
because she senses he hates himself?
May one just avoid the one who does bad things?
May one simply trust that there is a very large God, a larger reckoning, which will take care of the one who does bad things?
May the poet do her job, surveying the Universe, swooping into galactic wormholes, caves of newly formed words, like spores, waiting to be plucked at their most pure?
May one just. Just just just watch
the new family of grackles whooshing
by the kitchen window, and, not even thinking about bad things,
consider how different she is from them, and how
much the same? How it’s all about
wing power?
Can one say to herself, I am an Artist, capital “A,”
and that matters most right now, and mean it? Really
mean it? Believe it?
Believe that is enough? Believe
that Art is what is needed more than
anything in the face of bad things?
May one hold a pen in one hand, a sword in the other and still
recognize herself?
Or is one given the wisdom to know
what to hold, when to hold it, when
to hold on, when to loosen
her grip and stop
just stop
thinking
that she must embrace
all the suffering in this bruised world, just stop
assuming that is, somehow, her job,
a joyless one, a dark and lethal one.

Is there joy seeping out, seeping out, seeping not weeping? Is joy
still there, waving to us, in full sight?

Can one feel joy despite
Joy despite
Joy despite
Joy despite

 


Nancy Dunlop is a poet and essayist who resides in Upstate New York, where she has taught at the University at Albany. A finalist in the AWP Intro Journal Awards, she has been published in print journals, including The Little Magazine, Writing on the Edge, 13th Moon: A Feminist Literary Magazine, Works and Days, and Nadir, as well as online publications such as Swank Writing, RI\FT, alterra, Miss Stein’s Drawing Room, Truck, and Writers Resist. She has forthcoming work in Free State Review and the anthology, Emergence, published by Kind of a Hurricane Press. Her work has also been heard on NPR.

Photo credit: Meal Makeover Moms via a Creative Commons license.

By | 2017-09-13T14:55:46+00:00 September 14th, 2017|Categories: Issue 40: 14 Sep 2017|Tags: , |2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Susan Reynolds 2017-09-14 at 3:26 pm

    Like questions I ask myself, only much more articulate.

  2. Debbie Kay 2017-09-16 at 10:32 am

    Questions I ask myself. Thank you for giving us the right to come up with our own answers.

Comments are closed.