To The Right

In America, we drive on the right side of the road.  Also, people here generally walk on the right side of the sidewalk, busy hiking trails, even grocery store isles. When I walk along the trails around a nearby lake, I keep to the right side of the path.  If I have the trail to myself, I walk right down the middle as if I owned the place.

What is your neighborhood like during the pandemic? Where I am I have noticed giving another pedestrian 6 feet is seen as a courtesy; in the grocery store, offices, parks, etc., keeping your distance is a sign of good manners. It is awkward or rude if a person stands too close to another. Feathers get ruffled.

Earlier this year, before the snowpack in the mountains could build and the rains of the Northwest La Nina winter began, Padden Gorge Trail was dry and quiet. The creek was all but dried up. The cold air chased away many birds and I experienced the eerie sensation of standing in a silent forest.

To The Right
second draft

The woods are quiet today
I do not hear the rustle of a bird
no wind playing at the leaves
no foraging of a rodent
or the panting of a dog
Padden Creek is down to its
late summer trickle
Everything is off

My ears reach for the sound of people
at the lake trail on end with mine
I hear no one
I haven’t been sleeping lately
For a moment I am dream walking
zombified in this quiet wood
with no direction, no purpose
No others to use as a reference
or provide a sense of direction
No validation of movement
or placement

I walk down the canyon trail in silence.
surrounded by silence

Then–they find me
The crunching roar of off-road bike tires
approach me from behind
I move to the right
The joggers with focused steps
and controlled pants
I move to the right
Two dogs and two owners
come at me head-on
I move to the right
Facedown each time to make sure
my breath does not mix with theirs
Behind me I hear the steps of another walker
I move to the right
I’m a slow walker compared to others
I know this walker will pass me
I wait
no walker
Then turn to look
No one

There are two places on these trails
where the sound tricks the ear
My own steps sound like another
getting ready to pass
but it is just me
and my steps
echoing off the walls
of the thick forest

How nice of me to give the same
courtesy I give others
unknowingly
yet, still as sweet

A Noisey Padden Creek

Feature Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

Day 230: No Place to Lament

But O For the Touch of a Vanished Hand, 1888, Walter Langley. In 1882, Langley settled in Newlyn, Cornwall. The subjects of his paintings were typically Cornish fishermen and their families. The title is taken from the Tennyson poem ‘Break Break Break’.

As you may know, I often record a rough draft of a poem on my phone when inspiration strikes. This morning I revisited some of my recordings from the year. I’d like to offer the original recording and the poem (draft) that came from it.

This recording touched me. I forgot about this day and I’m thankful I took the time to hit record. Please note that I use a hands-free phone system in the car.
This recording was made in a safe & legal manner.

No Place to Lament

August 20, 2020, day 157 of the U.S. Pandemic

Yesterday I thought I was going to have a meltdown
an honest to goodness meltdown
I needed to cry
to have a good cry

Every so often I need to do this

There are times when the weight of my world is felt
When the lack of things I need is noticed
and I want to cry
a good cry
Not just any kind of cry
but a true wailing
Where my face becomes a waterfall
I transcend to trance
Weighted emotions leave your body
through the antenna of outstretched arms
Become a blubbery mess of emotion prepared to
exclaim at the pinnacle of a moment
Poised with a justified invocation, complaint, request,
expression of confidence, and vow of praise
to the Lord That Fixes Everything!

The when is now
the place…
I do not have

At my apartment
a neighbor would hear and complain
In my car
eyes blurred by tears cannot see the road
At work
Security cameras capturing me
beating my chest could cost me my job
“She’s unstable. She must be replaced”
In the woods
If I cry out, alone to moan, and
demand justice, preach to the trees—
no, a hiker will come by
call the police reporting,
“There is a woman in the woods who sounds
like she’s being beaten! Protect us!”

So, I do not lament
I keep it inside,
except…

sometimes, at night
a little lament leaks
out my eyes
onto the pillow
quietly
softly
and no one is
none the wiser

###

Today is day 230 of the lockdown in Washington State. Thank you for the likes and for continuing to reach out.
–keep creative,
Shannon

Thank You Red Wheelbarrow

So many songs begging Ruth Bader Ginsburg to “hang on” until there is another democrat in the white house.  This one caught my attention.  SNL 2019. 


Thank you Red Wheelbarrow writers for accepting my poem, “Day 53”, for publication in This Uncommon Solitude your upcoming anthology of pandemic poetry.

“We are honored to showcase and share your powerful and poignant words during this unsettling time of crisis.”

 

Day 53
By Shannon Laws

If the world were normal now,
as it may never be again,
I might enjoy the morning.
This morning where I woke,
at 8:37 a.m., ate breakfast
drank coffee in bed, started writing,
and still under the sheets at 11:36.

If this was, let’s say, Friday, September 20, 2019,
I would not label this morning a case of pandemic fatigue,
no—it would be relaxation.

It is what the pre-pandemic modern world
used to refer as a “personal day.”
(remember personal days?)
I could find joy in working at home if all
my neighbors got into their cars and
drove to work this morning!
THEN today would be a special day for me.
But, it is not.

It is day 53 of the lockdown, and there is nothing
but the heavy responsibility of
staying home and
saving lives.

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel
Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel

 


https://www.history.com/news/ruth-bader-ginsburgs-landmark-opinions-womens-rights-supreme-court

Jury Duty for women as a right-
In 1979, Ginsburg argued Duren v. Missouri, a case in which a Missouri man accused of murder argued he couldn’t get a fair trial because of a law that made jury service optional for women. She told the court that such exemptions didn’t just make the jury pool unfair; it devalued women’s contributions to juries.

Equal pay regardless of sex-
In her 2007 dissent, which she read from the bench (a rare move for any justice), she argued that the Civil Rights Act’s 180-day time limit shouldn’t apply in the case of discriminatory pay since gender-based discrimination can happen gradually. “A worker knows immediately if she is denied a promotion or transfer,” said Ginsburg. “Compensation disparities, in contrast, are often hidden from sight.”