Today I asked for prayers for Monica Hand, a wonderful poet who took her obsession with Nina Simone and produced a wonderful debut collection me and Nina five years ago. She’s been working on a Ph.D the past few years. She is not the only Black woman artist I know who is facing medical crisis and who has very little money. We are mortal-a fact that I am reminded of daily as I wake with aches and pains that were not there 30 years ago–but more importantly because I can go into my address books and find people’s names/addresses/numbers who are no longer alive. It pains me and many of my friends. We see the generation ahead of us leaving and we are next and we know that. But then there are the times when someone younger goes–no matter, it’s difficult. It is sad.
It’s December. A month of bright chilly days in which the light leaves bit by bit until the Solstice, the shortest day of the year. It is also the month of Advent. A month of prophesy and expectation–Oh come expected Jesus is one of the Advent hymns. Prophesy and expectation are vastly different experiences. As a poet, I find myself trying to bring these different experiences together–not in harmony, but at least in complement.
And so this past weekend I sat with fellow poets to plan programs that we all think are needed in these awful times. We know that the best version of America is not expressed right now. We know that men and a few women of great wealth who are joining the Trump administration have little regard to poor and working people. Most artists are poor, working people. We know that the light is leaving bit by bit. That “winter of discontent” is not a cliche this year. From the marches in the street or the buying and selling of just about everything to imbibing many a spirit (bourbon, rye, whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila) we are all dis contented. That our friends are ill; that our friends are burying their mothers, their grandmothers makes this December so much more difficult. We know that little in our national experiment will benefit us over the next few years.
One of things that found interesting about reading John Glenn’s obituary that when he took is cosmic flight, he saw three sunsets and three sunrises. So it seems great to remember about the Solstice is that once that short day is done, the light begins to return. The sun will grow brighter even in dark days of January and February. The light grows. So I hope, our capacity to love, to live, to be good people despite the political era to come, will grow and shine much light.