One day you asked,
“What has been the greatest loss
for you in this year of staying home?”
Most days, life has passed safely,
even comfortably, as though we’ve
been secluded by choice, but our
movement in any direction has
been circumscribed sharply by
loss; we know this. So much has
been lost: depths of shadow and light,
merged and blunted; the silenced
music of so many voices’ singular
and welcomed tones; so many
pleasures surrendered; life lived
on streets, in crowds, the present
pulsing bodies of others, the comforting
mystery of strangers passing closely,
unmasked and distinct, unknown parts
of us required for our wholeness; the
world’s light flickering and dimmed,
as though our species’ centuries of
negotiations with truth and compassion
have shifted, collapsed; we’re wandering,
pointless and plagued. We are unmoored.
But something perceived yet unseen
has held this year together; tethering
my heart to others, to now; I miss its
visibility, the taste of its name on my tongue…
Once, when I had lost track of my
life, its path and possibilities, I spent
a week at the National Gallery. A dull
February, drained, vacant, gray, but
early, eagerly, every morning, I’d climb
into all that color and creation and be fed.
I called it my Holy Week: the cool tomb, the temple
of my possible rising. Indifferent guards drowsed
in doorways while silent pilgrims swept softly down
marble hallways, pausing to peer, to fall in and
out of stories, consenting to be changed, to be
healed, communing with ghosts whose necessary
messages, offered in colors, light, and shadow,
forever repeated what it has always meant to be
human in a world of brokenness and blessing,
and how to love it all, how we must love it all.
I felt rescued, but more; resurrected. Loving
it all and risen, I was forever transformed. But
it works like this: death leads to life. You think,
I am changed forever, and then you regress; life
pummels and surprises; lessons are misplaced;
lockdowns and losses arrive unexpectedly, and
you let go of hands; they release you; tongues
forget words, their taste and meaning, strangers’
voices, their mystery and music are surrendered;
truth collapses; the world feels hate-washed, viral.
You reject what breaks, what hurts, the suffering;
you lose your way and self; you reach an edge, falling,
disfiguring, forgetting to love it all. Life leads to death.
You waited for my answer. What did I miss?
“The name for how we endure, what holds
us together. I am losing track of my life. I
am forgetting again, in need of colors and
peace, spread thick across my imagination,
the taste of them, an artist’s fingerpost, the
tether, its rescuing name on my tongue.”
You dressed for a trip to the store: rote skills,
weekly drills, masks and social distance;
survival procurement. Another dull February,
drained, vacant, gray, a year made bleak by
staying home, no news and nothing ever new.
I watched the car roll down the drive, diminish,
and followed you with a litany of anxious orisons,
a ritual accrued in the time of plague, the need to
believe: Be safe; return uncorrupted, my beloved.
And then, at the store, dodging viral molecules
and drained of all but my need for an answer,
you gathered a bouquet of cellophaned blooms,
unmomentous, meaning everything, a gift from the
gallery of groceries, meant in the giving to transform,
transfigure, to connect this time to all times of hardship
and loss and the ways we endure; to recall how love
alters suffering, always. “Climb into color,” you said,
and I did, and was rescued, but more, resurrected.
This is a note to read, when next we are falling:
The world turns on love or not at all, not at all.
Every day, we enter life’s studio to practice
the arduous art of being human, of learning
how to love it all, the brokenness and blessing,
how we must love it all. We forget and die and
resurrect through love’s colors, gestures, memories
sparked by others’ gifts, their offered arts reawakening
ours. Love is our tether, our constant call; known
forever by the taste of its name on our tongues.
© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.