Permission to Breathe Again

We are waiting for snow
the way we might wait for a train
to arrive with its cold cargo—
it is late already, but surely
it will come.
We are waiting for snow
the way we might wait
for permission
to breathe again.

For only the snow
will release us, only the snow
will be a letting go, a blind falling
towards the body of earth
and towards each other.

And while we wait at this window
whose sheer transparency
is clouded already
with our mutual breath,

it is as if our whole lives depended
on the freezing color
of the sky, on the white
soon to be fractured
gaze of winter.
~Linda Pastan “Interlude” from Queen of a Rainy Country

This poem by Linda Pastan was published in 2008 — it wasn’t written about waiting our turn for the new COVID vaccine, but it could have been.

Most of us are waiting for the vaccine like we wait for the relief of a winter snow storm. It’s as if we are all stuck inside, watching at the window, our noses pressed to the glass, our breath fogging the pane, gazing at the sky and trying to predict when and if the snow will come. We long to see the world clean and smooth and magical again with all its messy, grimy, muddy parts covered up, at least for awhile.

We want to play again and go where our heart wishes and be together with our friends and family. We want permission to breathe deeply, to show off our smiles and sing with gusto.

This second winter of COVID is crueler than the first because we know more now than a year ago: we know what we could have done and should have done but didn’t. We know we’ve lost far more lives than we should have and thousands more struggle to recover.

In order to fracture this COVID winter, to break open this frozen sky of our suspended lives, we seek the vaccine to arrive like the snow, covering all, protecting all, inviting all.

Our lives depend on it.

(I get my first dose today)

5 thoughts on “Permission to Breathe Again

  1. Emily, Oh yes! So much we look forward to again. I was so fortunate to hear of Kaiser’s sign up early as other friends with Kaiser are now having to wait until March for their 1st appt. Either we have a lot of folks I this area willing to take the vaccine or the supply is still undependable. So grateful I didn’t have so much as a sore arm afterwards and hope yours goes so well also. Has Dan been able to get an appt?




  2. I am happy for you, Emily. Here in Florida, they have decided that residents, not tourists, should get the vaccine first–finally. But appointments are so very difficult to secure. Soon, I hope to say, “I got my first dose” too!


  3. Hopeful? Yes, of course. However, being a Gael-Irish lass, I sometimes assume a wary ‘wait and see’ attitude….
    I extend a heart-filled ‘thank-you’ and well-deserved respect to the many who have made this medical miracle possible in such a short period of time..They survived numerous controversies, obstructive political chicaneries, lies, deliberate foul-ups re promised deliveries, etc.
    by the previous administration.

    We have learned so many painful lessons and caveats as we continue to suffer through this latest Pandemic.
    I hope that the experience(s) have taught us to ‘read the signs,’ act with open hearts based on mutual love and respect for each other — and learn to understand the ancient ‘writing on the wall.’ (The ‘enemy’ never sleeps, never gives up. But we have our Loving Protector
    Our Savior, The Good Shepherd, ever ready to intercede, to do battle for our souls. All we have to do is to ask!)


  4. Emily, I love seeing your tall evergreen in the many backgrounds of season and weather. And I especially love reading your messages, always of hope.


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