I demand a day without so much fucking sky.
Or, so much brown earth, flattened
as though rolled and pinned
by the muted white firmament.
I loved it at first, this view of endless
distance, but now
it teases me, and endless
is still only until the horizon. Or,
instead it’s that this
division is mere illusion, human comfort:
things must end
this dead steppe’s offing
the world in fact keeps going, oblivious.
I may demand nothing.
Image: “bye steppe 6” by Alissa, licensed under CC 2.0.
I wrote “Wednesday, March” in April, for a National Poetry Month group project where we each wrote a poem a day. I debated the blandness of the title, but decided it represents the temporal vagueness of quarantine experience. Lockdown of the city of Astana, Kazakhstan, where I currently live, began on March 19th, and I’d been staring out at the static, almost alienating steppe from my apartment for a month. During this period, I’d begun to resent the very thing I’d loved so much when I’d first arrived in this place—the vast, endless sky.
Yes, this poem is about space, but also this poem is about time, and our short little memories, and our lack of patience, and the sorts of cognitive dissonance we can so easily fall prey to and engage in. It was a warning to myself: be aware that people all over the world, in places like China, Italy, and New York City, have been in lockdown for longer, and are in crisis in ways you fortunately cannot understand first-hand. Hold fast.
I find it eerie to read this poem now—at the end of July, as Kazakhstan sits in its second country-wide lockdown and the number of infections across the globe continues to grow—when people everywhere have become clearly fatigued with the pandemic, and as a result, some are becoming less vigilant. Patience, people; patience, self.