Evelyn D. Klein
Alone. We are all in this pandemic together.
It’s isolation. Isolation.
We work our way through shadowy forest of Covid,
through thickening, rising brush.
At home, houseplants become companions
who beg attention, conversation.
It’s a good time for annual transplanting,
so African violets can carry forward their colors,
each begging its own name
to go with that personality.
And the Covid curve rises and falls, rises and falls
as we trudge through the woods without path.
Let’s transplant the white violets,
for each person who died but not from Corona,
those succumbing to illness,
freedom fighter Congressman,
the Woman Supreme Court Justice,
and the ones whose lives were taken
by those meant to protect,
the man who died on the street,
the woman who died in her home.
Let’s transplant light blue violet
for the scientists entrusted to find a cure,
a vaccine to stamp out Corona.
Let’s transplant the double purple for healthcare people,
the purple with white rim for essential workers,
the single purple for firefighters.
Let’s transplant the pink violet
for the new Woman Supreme Court Justice,
the rose-colored violets
for the candidates on either side running for president,
the ice pink for the incumbent,
the maroon for the woman, first woman of color,
nominated for vice president,
the violet color one for the man nominated,
by the opposing party, for president
who promises to bring the country together.
So many violets crowding in one space,
so many souls lost alone
and not enough violets stacked
along this window wall, whose sheltering blinds
let through light but not direct sun,
too many to count,
all like children looking for promise.
Surely the woods are too shadowy for violets,
so home is a good place to stay safe.
Transplanting hands can dig deep into soil
to connect with mother earth,
until skin’s furrows and nails turn black
and require thorough scrubbing like those
of health care workers or ordinary people
washing off contagion.
We struggle through the woods, hoping
not to trip looking for the clearing, looking, looking.
Now to remember
not to water violets too much,
avoid direct sunlight
no matter how much it goes against the grain,
shelter them behind blinds
but take time to linger over them,
extol their diversity,
engage in conversation with them,
to ensure all will thrive in new organic soil,
not to develop as they were
but as they are going to be
in the new period of growth,
in the period of new growth.