The Tenacity of Nature

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast — a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines —

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches —

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind —

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf

One by one objects are defined —
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance — Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted they
grip down and begin to awaken
~William Carlos Williams “Spring and All”

I ask your doctor
of infectious disease if she’s
read Williams   he cured
sick babies I tell her and
begin describing spring
and all   she’s looking at the wall
now the floor   now your chart
now the door   never
heard of him she says
but I can’t stop explaining
how important this is
I need to know your doctor
believes in the tenacity of nature
to endure   I’m past his heart
attack   his strokes   and now as if
etching the tombstone myself   I find
I can’t remember the date
he died or even
the year   of what now
are we the pure products   and what
does that even mean   pure   isn’t it
obvious   we are each our own culture
alive with the virus that’s waiting
to unmake us
~Brian Russell, “The Year of What Now”

It is the third January of a pandemic
of a virus far more tenacious than
we have proven to be,
it continues to unmake us,
able to mutate spike proteins seemingly overnight
while too many of us stubbornly
remain unchanged by this,
clinging to our “faith over fear”
and “my body, my choice”
and “lions, not sheep”
and “never comply” —
because self-determination must trump
compassion for the unfortunate fate of vulnerable millions.

We defend the freedom to choose
to be vectors of a contagion
that may not sicken us yet fills
clinics, hospitals and morgues.

William Carlos Williams, the early 20th century physician,
would be astonished at the clinical tools we have now
to fight this scourge.
William Carlos Williams, last centuries’ imagist poet,
would recognize our deadly erosion of cooperation
when faced with a worthy viral opponent.

So what happens now?

Starting with this third pandemic winter,
with our souls in another deep freeze,
covered in snow and ice and bitter wind chill,
a tenuous hope of restoration could awaken –
tender buds swelling,
bulbs breaking through soil,
being called forth from long burial
in a dark and cold and heartless earth.

Like a mother who holds
the mystery of her quickening belly,
knowing we nurture other lives with our own body,
we too can be hopeful and marveling
at who we are created to be.

She, and we, know soon and very soon
there will be spring.

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3 thoughts on “The Tenacity of Nature

  1. Emily, my friend and sister–
    I feel I must respond to your statements below, as one of those who have not had, nor will not have the vaccine–and I’m 85 years old–one of the vulnerable ones the vax is supposed to protect. For me, it’s not a matter of “faith over fear”–I’m not expecting my relationship with the Lord Jesus to protect me from the virus. That’s for Him to decide. And none of the other quotes describe my attitude either–I’m not lacking compassion–I just have–and have had from the very beginning–a strong conviction that the vaccines are untested and provably dangerous–not “safe” and “effective” as they’re purported to be. One can look at Israel and see that they have failed to deliver on what they promised. I have a great deal I could say, but my intention is not to argue over this subject, especially with someone I love and admire as I do you! I only want to defend the many of us who take an opposite stand because of our own research and dependence on the Lord’s guidance also.
    Sincerely, with love–
    JoAnn Monaghan

    It is the third January of a pandemic
    of a virus far more tenacious than
    we have proven to be,
    it continues to unmake us,
    able to mutate spike proteins seemingly overnight
    while too many of us stubbornly
    remain unchanged by this,
    clinging to our “faith over fear”
    and “my body, my choice”
    and “lions, not sheep”
    and “never comply” —
    because self-determination must trump
    compassion for the unfortunate fate of vulnerable millions.

    We defend the freedom to choose
    to be vectors of a contagion
    that may not sicken us yet fills
    clinics, hospitals and morgues.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jo, I knew this would be a hard subject for some of my readers as I don’t write often about the tragedy of poor educational messaging from the government and scientific community about the relative safety of the vaccine compared with natural COVID infection. Your own research is wholly dependent on media messengers who encourage doubt and have been very successful at sowing vaccine distrust for years before this particular vaccine was ever created. You have lived a long faithful life with convictions that have given you confidence and peace about your decisions. I wish I too felt that peace on your behalf and others but my training and experience says otherwise! Praying for your ongoing good health and that you won’t encounter this virus unprotected— Emily

    Like

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