Coronavirus Journal

I’ve decided to participate in the National Women’s History Museum’s project to document women’s daily experiences throughout the pandemic. If you are interested to participate, please feel free to sign up. My hope is that it will get me writing on a regular basis. Here’s the link. It’s been a rough year for most everyone, which is why maybe recording daily events may help me focus on what’s in front of me. In the last seven months alone, I have lost three dear friends to cancer and perhaps Covid-related stroke. And then there are the 400,000 people and more gone in the U.S. alone. Part of how I document these tragic times is by writing poetry. They are not as intentional as a journal may be, but words and images come in fragments like grief. They are embedded in the everyday, and they just want to come lose sometimes and present themselves in text. They may not have value beyond self-therapy or a need to release pain, but that is what a journal is, isn’t it? And if by chance someone reads them and connects with them, then that is a good thing. I think for many women for whom compartmentalization seems more of a challenge, getting through the monotony of lockdown activities is worth reflecting upon. Here are some poetic grieving in the last few weeks:

Ann (1/27/2021)
Grief in America can be put on hold
It is like waiting on the phone as elevator music plays in the background
Must clean kitchen
Must help with homework
Must grocery shop
Must make fun fifteenth birthday

Must schedule dental appointments, appliance repair, meetings with students
Must keep things from breaking
Must do this to keep from doing that which hurts

I can smell laundry soap on my shirt
Perhaps I have no covid
My car is buried in a blanket of virgin snow
My daughter just texted I love you, too
But your face hovers like a cloud

I’m having a hard time wanting to live with your dying
It doesn’t seem fair
That I should keep breathing
Keep appreciating the fine line of snow that makes this tree so beautiful
And now a pinging 26 days after you wrote 30
But how can I help celebrate your birthday now that you’re gone?
Fuck Facebook

Alex (1/02/2021)

It is 3:30 p.m. and the clock is heavy
The painted smile fades on the ceramic clown’s face
Snow covers this house that is not in Puerto Rico
A music box clown spins slowly as the music plays
Fur Elise, of course
A punk rocker’s secret delight
It is dressed in gold and black tiger print,
Same as the bathrobe you liked to lounge in
On your bed, your shirts lay spread as if for wearing
But you are already gone
You took your painted boyish smile with you
And left your candles burning
Your records playing
Your beer chilling in the fridge

The carpet trapped the dreams you whispered
I vacuumed the dust that muffled them and hope
Perhaps now the colors will be free.

About filinthegap

Lani T. Montreal is an educator, writer, performer, and community activist. Her writings have been published and produced in Canada, the U.S., the Philippines and in cyberspace. Among her plays are: Panther in the Sky, Gift of Tongue, Looking for Darna, Alien Citizen, Grandmother and I, and her most-toured comedy drama about gender and immigration, titled Sister OutLaw. She is the recipient of the 2015 3Arts Djerassi Residency Fellowship for Playwriting, 2008 3Arts Ragdale Residency Fellowship, the 2001 Samuel Ostrowsky Award for her memoir “Summer Rain,” and was finalist for the 1995 JVO Philippine Award for Excellence in Journalism for her environmental expose “Poison in the River.” Lani holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She teaches writing at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and writes a blog called “Fil-in-the-gap”. (filinthegap.com.) She lives (and loves) in Albany Park, Chicago with her multi-species, multi-cultural family.
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