It’s World Poetry Day, and I’m going to read you an old poem that I find very soothing.
It’s about a different kind of self-isolation. Not for COVID-19 but for a bruised heart.
(Give the audio file a moment to load. It starts abut 12 seconds in.)
Here’s the back story: In 1982, when I was 42, I was feeling kind of frantic and confused — and then suddenly I became the first trans-Tasman Writers Exchange Fellow and I was whisked off to Sydney. The excellent people at Macquarie University took excellent care of me in every way, including finding me short-term accommodation in Elizabeth Bay. This marvellous event (a writer’s dream) meant I was suddenly transplanted out of my old house in Wellington, with its tangle of sad associations, into a simple, neutral, empty, impersonal, safe studio apartment in a high rise over Sydney.
And so I found myself living alone in another country for three months, without my family and friends, but also, without sadness or conflict. This was exactly what I needed at the time.
Because of my circumstances, this very blank studio apartment, which was like a motel room in a high rise, was infinitely beautiful to me. It was emotionally safe.
And in the time of COVID-19, that resonates.
I know, I know, this was not self-isolation because of a deadly coronavirus. It was an abrupt change of location and removal from friends, family, and routine. And so I see some tiny parallels that remind me to love what I can love and be grateful for small mercies.
I hope the poem will bring you a momentary escape into peace and safety and hope.
Be strong, be kind, and be OK.