Love in the Time of COVID-19 by Janée J. Baugher

Posted Tue, 3/31/2020 - 11:35am by  |  Category: ,

With National Poetry Month starting April 1, Hugo Instructor Janée Baugher wrote this poem for the blog. Her class, National Poetry Month Intensive, starts tomorrow. Late registrations are welcome. Call 206.322.7030 to sign up. Learn more »

I’m thinking about Gabriel García Márquez’s novel and how today’s when it’s permissible for me to linger indoors and nibble on my kitten’s ear and he closes his eyes as if in ecstasy. When the neighborhood is halted and the robins and sparrows squawk in the maple outside. When hummingbirds drink from the feeder. When the Chief Librarian opted to close the libraries and said our borrowed books were ours for the month. When I spend just three hours reading that one book. When I find the high school poetry journal we produced and send an image of her poem to a friend who now writes legislation in Olympia. When I’m surprised by an inscription that reads, “Janée, you are so lucky to have a name you can accent. Actually, though, it’s not luck. It’s what you deserve. You seem to be the accent on la vie.” When I read poems for Boulevard magazine because it’s my job. When I post a photo of little Nietzsche on Facebook. When I learn that butterflies drink turtles’ tears. When Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie posts his live stream of him singing from his Seattle home, “I’ve got a cupboard with cans of food / Filtered water and pictures of you / And I’m not coming out until this is all over.” When I walk to QFC for a dozen doughnuts, apples and lettuce, frozen broccoli, soy patties and rosé, and get cash back, just in case. When the $122 bill doesn’t faze me. When I phone my 74-year-old professor father and urge him to leave campus. When friends phone me to calm them. When I research the word “home” in thirty-three languages and begin a new poem. When I text, “not now, I’m making a poem.” When Nietzsche, purring, crawls into my lap, and I cue a video of squirrels on my phone for him. When someone on Reddit posts a video of she and her dog playing Connect Four. When Core Power Yoga studio is closed but offers free tutorials online. When my neighbor invites me to Volunteer Park. When the classical concerts in Seattle are canceled but Live Music Project of Seattle shares a link of The Metropolitan Opera’s Puccini’s La Bohème. When I watch Governor Inslee’s press conference and recall that we had the same high school counselor, and wouldn’t Ms. Rolstad be proud. When all six ornamental plum trees on my block bloom pink, pink, pink. When I receive an email with the subject line, “Public Health needs volunteers for COVID-19 response.” When it was just three days ago that I sipped ice coffee in Starbucks. When I phone my grieving Tennessee friend and ask her to read to me her dead father’s published book. When I follow Nietzsche from room-to-room as he tracks the sun. When it’s time to reread Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Janée J. Baugher has taught creative writing for twenty years, and is a poetry submission reader for Boulevard. She’s the author of Coördinates of Yes, The Body’s Physics, and the forthcoming, The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art-Influenced Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction (McFarland, 2020).