A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Dream: halfway to my destination I remembered something I’d forgotten and turned around so I could get it back before it was too late. But making my way from A to B could not be managed easily. Locked courtyard, blocked alleys, a high wall – I had to cross or climb them all. I tried and tried without success. Wherever I turned: NO ACCESS, no way to reach the subway station and get from there to my destination across the river and into a room I’d open the door to (what was Zoom?), enter, talk, listen, and engage with my students, forgetting age, and tell them, before time ran out, what reading and writing were about. Gathered together in one place, to talk and listen, face to face: this, my dream was telling me, was something that could no longer be. Henceforth it wouldn’t be allowed to be part of any crowd. Locked courtyards and blocked alleyways, our isolated nights and days, no hands held up or questions asked, the eager faces muffled, masked, all siloed in our separate spaces, and interposed between us: stasis. I knew already there was no way to get where I had to go. The dream I dreamed six months ago: Prophetic, but no longer true. Now crowds have gathered – still masked, yes, but shouting against voicelessness. The streets are full, the atmosphere ardent, infectious. Where is fear? Forgotten in the hope and flow. Justice is a pandemic too.
Copyright Rachel Hadas. First published in Plough Quarterly, Fall 2020.
Rachel Hadas’s many books include Questions in the Vestibule and Poems for Camilla. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the O. B. Hardison Poetry Prize, among other honors. Hadas is Board of Governors Professor of English at Rutgers University–Newark.