Pandemic Catch-Up: 2020 Vision

(part 2/3)

Two years ago my only context for ‘2020’ was my vision. I have worn corrective lenses most of my life to compensate for the staggering inability of my left eye to make sense of the world. The first time I put on glasses, I was dazzled by the colors of the trees, so much brighter when you consider every leaf instead of just a mass of fuzzy green.

The year 2020 was more than just a hard time, it disrupted the normal flow of the world to such a degree that the world became visible in a new way. It is appropriately numbered.

I have hesitated to post some of the pieces I wrote early in 2020 because they are raw and angry. That’s not usually my blogging vibe. But sometimes the proper response to injustice is raw anger and we figure out what to do with it later.

What does it take to lay down our rights for others? Will we choose the brave path of staring down our own blindness? These are important questions and these poems hold no answers. Receive them as part of a process rather than a final product. Post a comment if you want to talk more!

Next week, I’ll wrap up this catch up with some thoughts on our new normal. Thanks for reading!

Singed Veils

I complain bitterly of staying home
Others go about their jobs, exposed
Making the world go ‘round

The essential ones, not much thought of
Until we are all ordered home with pay
“But not you, we need you.”

They provide what is needful for quarantine
We will not lift a mask in solidarity
Suddenly, something in me rends

Tattered tulle cast aside
Stare down the everyday dangers
The world of those who live with eyes open
Not afforded a veil, for their station
Their community, their skin
And what do we see?

A class at home, a class at work
We see resources spread unevenly
Who can access computers, rent, safety?
We see some have been naked all along
Eyes open, accustomed to darkness
Piercing the shadowy silhouettes

I think knew it, deep down
But through that gauzy, hazy view
The lines were blurred

I make no excuses for my blindness
What we’ve seen we shouldn’t unsee
The veil smolders in the fireplace

Or we could just hole up watching movies
Until our danger is passed
And let them continue about theirs

Blind Man’s Bluff (A Lament for my Nation)

I gave you no pledges, promised little allegiance
Offered no sacrifice on your behalf
I watched you with a distrustful eye

Yet today I rend my frail hopes in disappointment
Feet torn from under me
I little thinking I stood on such a blood-stained rug

In sickness you bring forth what in health you hid
Repeated cries, centuries old
Secret deeds exposed in the light of a cell phone

Even us blind can see what we were never meant to
Sickness rages and your falsehoods raise a stench
Rising even to the siloed in their towers

I wanted to be angry, yet found myself grieved
Surveying the barren landscape
Of your crowning achievements

One year becomes one more veil removed
from between my face and my God
My face and my people, my face and all other faces

Perhaps we, eyes gauged and dimmed
Can still grope our way to the healer of the blind
I pray in his mercy he will come seek us out

When princes fail, we remember our God
Who freely offers mud for our eyes
A path for our feet

©2021 Jacqueline Tisthammer. All rights reserved.

Photo by Ellery Sterling on Unsplash

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