Kindness in the Time of Corona

In these days of pandemic, I no longer
rely on friends or the kindness of strangers.
I take my daily walk alone, plodded laps
around the football pitch, no cheers or claps,
while spectral goalposts lean towards each other
longing for the raucous fuss and bother
of a game. I stop to admire silver petals,
daisies straddling the green-grey tangles
of seeding grasses like starfish adrift
in patches of light and shadow that shift
with clouds. Birdsong flickers and chirrs,
a ghostly music box that opens in a whirr
of wings. Bees hum in and out of May
blossom, kindly pollinating on their way.
After this extended half-time when the game
is resumed, will the kindness stay the same?

Kim M. Russell, 19th May 2020

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My response to earthweal weekly challenge: Vast Particulars

Brendan’s challenge this week has been sparked by the thought of ‘early and earlier big and bigger storms’ heralding summer. He says the ‘oceans are heating faster than the land, and our annual columnar proof comes swirling, vast, and fraught with increasing peril’.

With the pandemic taking ‘the focus off the greater change in the Earth’s climate’, Brendan asks us to illustrate the changing tenor of the time with a snapshot or observation or tale which is both vast and particular. Do vast particulars – global yet local, earth-sensitive yet human-driven, pandemically reeling a decades-long unfolding—document the news of the moment? What new tensions are revealing themselves? If pandemic is the astringent which is fast clearing away the niceties and collective givens we call human, what vast particulars reveal homo sapiens behind its peeling mask?

I drafter this poem in the hour-long Shut Up and Write on-line workshop this afternoon, which is run by the Norfolk Library and Information Service in conjunction with the American Library (at The Forum in Norwich).

18 thoughts on “Kindness in the Time of Corona

  1. I hope kindness will not only remain but increase. I smiled at your shut up and write practice. My writing group has those sometimes, most often held at the library, when such things are allowed to happen.

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    1. I hope so too, Sherry. People are starting to get disgruntled and I’ve read and heard about some awful things. I can’t believe that some people think the pandemic is a hoax!

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  2. The gated playground below my apartment window has started to fill up with young maskless men playing basketball (they climb the fence at its low point)…they are not particularly angry, just bored. They don’t wear masks anyway as a point of pride…I fear for their relatives who are crowded into apartments with them. Some kind of acknowledgement, leadership, a clear plan and direction–but the time for that is long past. Will kindness survive another wave? (K)

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  3. I like that you focus on kindness. The pandemic seems to have awakened it in some, but sadly not in many. We remain decided even as a virus exerts its blind devastation on all.
    Still, I try to remain positive, mostly kind myself and hopeful. Thank you for this lovely poem that gives a glimpse into your thoughts, your routines and your writing group.

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  4. “. . . daisies straddling the green-grey tangles
    of seeding grasses like starfish adrift . . ” Your images are full of life and, yes, kindness. Perhaps the goalposts will want to keep the kindness too. Perhaps they will teach the players.

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  5. Kindness in this time of coronavirus–in this poem, I mean– is a reciprocated joy, the love of walking loved by the observed walked by. It’s a different kindness, not human, and the poet is both receiver and joy. Apologies for a dense challenge, I couldn’t figure another way to put it, but this is exactly to its point — at once a massive removal and a restatement of minute joys. A “half-time” thoroughly explicated, thanks Kim – Brendan

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    1. Having seen pictures of some selfish people in the UK who are going to beauty spots and leaving their rubbish behind, I don’t expect kindness from everyone, Suzanne. But whatever there is, I’ll be glad.

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      1. Today on my walk in the park a very old man fell over. By the time I got to him he was staggering up. Blood was streaming down his nose. He refused help. I found a man with a phone. Mine isn’t working right now ( just another drama). He came over but the old man again refused to be helped. He staggered off while the 2nd man -also elderly- just wanted to talk and talk and talk. He stood quite close. I kept moving away and he’d step closer! Meanwhile the 1st man had disappeared altogether. Maybe he lived nearby. Eventually I managed to cut off man 2’s stream of words and got away. I felt worried about man 1.but there was nothing more I could do. What a strange walk! Everything feels really heightened right now.

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      2. That was a very unsettling situation,, Suzanne. I was lucky when I had my second fall. My husband was just setting off for work. I managed to get back to our house and he brought me inside.

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      3. Thanks Kim. I hope the old man had someone at home. He was adamant he didn’t need help and the 2nd man was completely disinterested in pursuing the matter. It was so hard to know what to do.

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  6. Very thoughtful and I like the feelings conveyed by your walk alone. I see things here in Spain getting back to normal and a lot of faster traffic on country roads. And the beaches, as if there is an explosion of Me or We time and little thought about the losses we have all experienced. Hope kindness prevails though.

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