You are at the Doctor's office, again! You are battling the lines at Walgreens to pick up ear drops only to find out they are $400 for the tiniest little dollhouse bottle of Cipro you have ever seen. The pharmacist looks you in the eye and says, "I'll call your doctor and figure this out." You believe her, and make a mental note to remind yourself about the power of eye contact. Sure enough, 5 minutes before Walgreens closes she hands you eyedrops you can put in your ear, that are inexplicably, $8 instead of $400, and you are on your way to healing, inasmuch healed by the pharmacist's care and effort for your sake, a stranger. She didn't have to do that, you think, and tears prick at your eyes. You are perhaps overemotional. Perhaps its the rain. Perhaps its just one of those days.
Ashamed of my own self- perceived physical weaknesses I find myself blaming Portland's damp climate. No matter that when I am in Bend allergies kick up and leave me in sneezing fits, carrying a hankie around, and the desert air peels my skin no matter how much I hydrate. I'm guess I'm just sensitive, desert or rain, and I've always been this way. I liked how it sounded when my doctor said my cold was probably a flu since it was "accompanied by a fever." I picture a houseguest playing the white noise piano and stomping around in spike heels.
I was in class this week and overheard a student saying "I hope they don't throw me out!" then say, "kidding, not kidding." There were signs around the school saying PEOPLE ARE NOT ILLEGAL. Families are packing. I feel powerless and shift my curriculum towards the abstract. We look at Charles Simic's "Autumn Sky" and talk about "tasty little zeros/ in the peanut dish tonight." We remember that we are small, and subjective. We get the flu, we get shoulder separations, as one teacher mentions in a soft, sad way, and I recognize the gentle smile of one who has to take extra care. She passes out candy to us at the last hour of class. The students are ravenous, but they still complain. "It's all melted and gooey!" they say, dissolving into giggles. They are just kids, they don't deserve to be so afraid, and no one can make them feel better when the President Elect has said things that are seared in their brains. I don't think I realized the full reality of this until I was back in classrooms. I find myself thinking, if only he would apologize...." but that also seems useless. I want to hear from the student's mouths what they need. But they don't want to talk about it, they are tired of the topic and I don't blame them.
They seem to welcome a chance to escape into the surreal, and we talk about making sense in a non-ordinary way. We write to the prompt: "Since we moved to the moon, not much has changed," inspired by Brian Ellis' amazing poem of the same title. (Watch the poem below.) We make poems out of random words, we make order that makes no sense to anyone but ourselves.