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April 13, 2020

47 of 47

7 weeks ago we did not have a clue. It was February. Those Chinese had a problem, again, but it was not our problem. And Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. I was buying Birthday Books for my wife, and launched on a mission.

I had studied Emily Dickinson for my last book. She was a mystery and intimately in my head and words. I had written in Lent for the last 4 years, last 3 every day for 40 days.

So why not write alongside Emily?

So I bought a wee book of her collected poems, perhaps 200 of them. When I started the morning after Ash Wednesday, serendipity was there. The entire last section of the book was solemnly entitled “Death and Resurrection”. Virtually Lenten. I counted, and the section had 46 poems. Then I looked to the calendar 46 days from Thursday after Ash Wednesday until Easter. So I did one poem a day, every day, in the book’s sequence.


That meant that there would be no morning TV through Easter, and 90 minutes on the recumbent was to be everyday, baring illness or injury, as with the last few years. And I set to it.

Then COVID19, almost immediately, hit full force.

This was not an Emily Series, a Lent series, this was an Emily, COVID19 and Lent series. So that happened. My life winnowed down to the point where most days I am fully alone in my office. Crazily trying to stay ahead of projects and employees.

But a few weeks ago I saw that the poems, one per page, had 2 on the very last page. A final coda. Making 47 poems, so 47 days. So this Coda happened. I guess it is OK. By best guessing there have been over 15,000 reads in these almost seven weeks. Many kind notes were received.

But “it is finished”.

But not COVID19. It may have peaked, or not. Our economy is stopped cold. Assumptions on how we live are completely wracked with second guessing. New Puritans chide sinners who are not following the new Kosher Laws of activity, garment and conduct.

It is a time of fear and judgment, and low hope. And my right hamstring has a twinge.

It is a deeply human time. Because Emily, and I, and you, are terrified at the end of our book. It’s end, our end, is either silence, like these mornings, or it is something we cannot know. But this, today, is not what it was in any outcome, So we are afraid.

We have learned that what we plan, hope, even have, is not ours to control. It never was. The first look of betrayal on a child’s face, the first bounced check, the broken precious item and what we think we care about, is revealed to be different.

It is Life After Easter again. This time in COVID19.

‘The Infinite is a sudden guest.”

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