By Robert Cooperman
Minus two this morning,
so I ram on my ear-flapped
Grateful Dead Dancing Bears
soft as lamb’s wool winter cap
that could keep me warm
in Siberia; hell, in Antarctica.
Our ancient Toyota starts right up,
so we breathe a pennant of relief,
and drive slowly over icy roads.
Inside the clinic, our masks on,
members of the staff stare and exclaim,
“Really cool, dude!”
I smile, thank them, knowing,
by now, not to play the pedant, with,
“You do know what
the Dancing Bears mean, right?”
Nor do I launch into my usual lecture
on the greatest rock band
in the history of the world.
While Beth receives her second shot,
another nurse waves,
the secret password of Deadheads
and the music we love,
to make all three of us smile
with a bit more hope, that maybe,
we’ll get through this alive.
When the pandemic first hit, like a lot of other people, I was in a state of emotional paralysis. My usual writing schedule seemed like a total waste of time. All I could do was read and watch light mysteries. As for listening to the music I’ve loved all my life (the Grateful Dead), that was impossible, frivolous. But gradually, writing seemed essential again, especially to chronicle this plague and the country’s then president’s utterly vile response to it. To paraphrase one of his opponents: everything he touches turns to feces. But with the election and President Biden’s sane and humane approach to Covid, I began to feel more hopeful, was able to enjoy music again and to finish a couple of long term projects and to write about the response to the pandemic. Hence this poem.