You tell yourself that you are going to learn French.
Instead you make coffee with milk and tell yourself it’s okay
because they’ve yet to close the grocery stores;
no need to break into the shelf-stable supplies.
You tell yourself lies—that you’ll use the time to exercise.
If that were true, you had sufficient time before.
Instead you’ll ask your spouse to bake;
she will because she knows small indulgences make
us feel better even though no soul from purgatory springs.
We soothe our fears with obligatory things.
You tell yourself you’ll have self-control,
and, should that fail, self-compassion at least.
But you’ve become a caged self-loathing beast;
you will eat all your food from a single bowl.
You tell yourself you’ll read the novel beside your bed
(you gave up writing your own two days ago).
Outside the cherry blossoms snow,
but you’re stuck inside; no one is immune.
So you escape into a screen instead
and feed it your brain spoon by spoon.
You tell yourself that tomorrow will be different.
You’ll spend less time thumbing your phone,
take a break from the stream of worsening news;
you’ll clear your head, find peace in being alone.
But what you’ve chosen you will choose.
Tomorrow won’t be any different
because it still feels good to worry
and it still feels good to hate;
you’ll fill the hours with hurry and wait.
We curse the internet and hit ‘refresh’ on Zoom,
for there’s fear in a cough and death in a sneeze.
The school rooms are now as quiet as tombs
but, through our windows, the pink and purple trees
still wave, and weave the wind with pollen clouds.
We hide ourselves from crowds.
We hear and grieve the depths of hoarded greed
and then we cancel plans.
We mourn our elders’ lonely doom
and then we wash our hands.
So let us be as generous as the cherry trees in bloom,
zealous as the undefeated weed,
and patient as a seed.