Not Just Another Year: 2020 in Poem and Song

I don’t usually write ‘dark’ poems unless the times call for it. 2020 was such a time, a momentous year when the pandemic struck like a whirlwind and overturned all our lives. Such times call for release which poetry, art, song and religion can give. Start with the latter. Apocalyptic stories are as old as civilization. Pestilence was famously presaged in the Bible, expounded with great clarity by Jesus Christ in Luke 21:11 when He said: “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” The meaning of a pestilence, according to the Hebrew and Greek definitions, is a plague or disease. Whether you are a Christian or not, the pandemic drove home a painful lesson: that we must be far better stewards of the earth than we have been, for there is only one earth and we lose our moorings at our peril. For our reflections, I will end this year with a poem written just days ago, and pair it with Max Ritcher’s haunting soundtrack, ‘On the Nature of Daylight’, from his 2004 album, The Blue Notebooks. Stay safe and stay sane. May 2021 be a more forgettable year!

Not Just Another Year

In a year of one season
the prophetic wind came
and kept coming.
Though the earth breathed
and the birds sang,
the world quivered, then fell flat.
Silence won.
lives I know and lives I don’t know
shorn and beaten to roots.

The year turned, but so what?
He that shatters us
has no use for human clocks.
He goes where he wills, when he wills.
You can turn your back on the office,
you can stay out of the malls;
you can hope for a reset
by the turn of the calendar,
and pray to the gods
of science for miracles.
But you cannot not breathe,
you cannot hide from what seeks
us when we are near our end.
You cannot stop a prophetic wind
any more you can an oncoming train.
It’s as elemental as that.

© Wallace Fong, Dec 2020

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