One Morning

Susan Ahlbrand

I woke up one morning
about six weeks in and,
as in all things, the newness had worn off.

the fear and uncertainty of the stay-at-home order
usurped by complacence and comfort.

the scattered, unsettled feelings of teaching remotely
replaced by confidence and routine.

the frustration of staring at a screen
offset by the absence of disruptive students.

the wistful longing for evening activities
overrun by the appreciation of home being the default.

Right now,
my life is not in danger
neither are the lives of any of my loved ones.
Right now,
my job is not in peril,
nor are the jobs of any of my loved ones.

So, it’s easy for me
to concern myself with my daily rhythm.

Our “new normal,” our new rhythm
shines a light on many things we were
missing out on that we didn’t even realize . . .
family time at home with board games
and euchre and family movie night.
More home-prepared meals than in the last three years combined.
Arts and crafts and yardwork.
Books and podcasts and exercise
Daily mass online and regular time for prayer.
Yoga and time for soul-searching.

The days will never be long enough again
to fit all of the things that I now know I love
There won’t be enough hours
to squeeze in the few chapters,
the walk and podcast,
the meal prep and clean up
bookending a meal that holds lively conversation
after a full day of work.

How can we return to our “normal” jobs,
our “normal” rhythm,
our “normal” evenings
when we found so much now
that we want to keep?

And then there’s this . . .
I’m writing about my “new normal”
while others toil in dangerous hospitals
and work in understaffed nursing homes
and mourn the loss of loved ones.

I feel petty and superficial to worry about
what I want my days to hold.

Because, like all things,
the newness will wear off.


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Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems Copyright © 2021 by Susan Ahlbrand is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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