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Every dog has its day, and every book has a birthday! This is the birthday (or close to) of my book, Bonfire Opera, which has been like a companion to me throughout the pandemic, since it also came out at about the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. February 25th, 2020 was the official release date.
I appreciate, looking back, the ways the book kept me busy, gave me a job. Reading to people online. Meeting with poets, teachers, students, doctors nurses and other medical personnel. We gathered in the little boxes, seeing each other’s faces, close up. Or sometimes I was met with a dark screen, a name in place of a face. But I lived there, like a soul outside a body, hovering between worlds. And yet, the world was pulling me forth. That’s what it was really about. Purpose. As long as I was due somewhere, expected, I was a part of things. I existed. Even though there were days when, like everyone, I didn’t feel I had much to offer, when I felt tired or worn out or just disconnected from human contact, those voices and faces and names gave me a role, a job, a sacred duty.
A sacred duty to what? To remember, I suppose. To remember and keep remembering that we are all here, together in time. And that, in itself, is sacred. And, to reverse two letters of the word, we are all, at some time or another, scared, and especially in these times have faced the very real fear of loss, or loss itself. If your loved one died, even if it wasn’t of covid, you might not be able to see them. You might have to be separated from them in those final moments.
A book is such a small thing. You can hold it in your two hands. And a slender volume of poems, such as this one, is especially light to carry. But somehow it has carried me. And I am grateful to everyone who has carried it with me.
Stone By Danusha Laméris And what am I doing here on the side of a hill at the ragged edge of the tree line, sheltered by conifer and bay, watching the wind lift, softly, the dry leaves of bamboo? I lie on the ground and let the sun fall across my back, as I’ve been doing for the past hour, listening to the distant traffic, to the calls of birds I cannot name. Once, there was so much I thought I needed. Now, all I know is that I want to get closer to it: the rocky slope, the orange petals of the nasturtium adorning the fence, the wind’s sudden breath. Close enough that I can almost feel, at night, the slight pressure of the stars against my skin. Isn’t this what the mystics meant when they spoke of forsaking the world? Not to turn our backs to it, only to its elaborate plots, its complicated pleasures— in favor of the pine’s long shadow, the slow song of the grass. I’m always forgetting, and remembering, and forgetting. I want to leave something here in the rough dirt. A twig, a small stone—perhaps this poem—a reminder to begin, again, by listening carefully with the body’s rapt attention —remember? To this, to this.