31 July 2021

sleep of reason

"If you believe that the virus is a hoax, that the vaccine has a satanic code and/or a microchip embedded in it, that wearing masks will cause brain damage to children, you will believe anything. And in the end, people who believe anything will do anything. The sleep of reason brings forth monsters."

Fintan O'Toole (borrowing from Francisco Goya

I had forgotten how weird life gets, overall, while on antibiotics. Given that thanks to years and years of immune suppression therapy, my white blood cell count is generally low, as in really low (which makes me wonder how there are even enough of them to show up in blood and piss above normal to indicate infection), this whole week was a mad tumble from bed to bathroom and back. Today, I decided I just about had enough of this and got up way before breakfast, cycled to the farmer's market and made it back in one piece bearing fresh apricots and big fat black cherries and the first greengages. After breakfast I repaired to my boudoir for a lengthy spot of resting. 

madly flowering pincushion flower (scabiosa)

R harvested all our own apricots as the tree has some sort of fungal disease (cladosporium stigmata or shotgun blasts disease) and R hopes that a radical cut will be enough to help. This is apricot tree number four, just not our luck. Other than that, we have reached that important stage of the gardening year where we just watch and harvest and basically let it grow any which way. A bit like that part of my app-guided meditation where the nice male voice tells me to just let my mind go where it wants to go to. Which is when I usually wake up realise I should concentrate on my breathing.

plain tansy competing with buddleia

Reading the news, regardless of source, I could get quite hysterical until I remember my upbringing and I hear my mother's voice in my head hissing "manners" and this strange calm washes over me, followed by the enormous sense of relief that my child and her family are living happily in a covid-free and relatively sane country on the other side of the planet. 

the agapanthus siblings from Madeira

Just as an aside, I had a major debate this week with a young scientist (me in the horizontal position on the phone, but little did he know) about the use of the word enormous. Or rather that he should not use it when comparing therapy success rates in hepatic cell cancer. I suggested he replace it with considerable which he said was boring. What has become of the youth, I ask myself. Anyway, I insisted. His career is only beginning, mine is on its last leg. I win.

some sort of coriander

Here's another poem to keep us all afloat.

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you down like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

Ellen Bass






Ms. Moon said...

Beautiful poem. Thank you for that.
As to people's beliefs about covid and the vaccines- well. I had no idea that human beings could be so stupid. And that's all I need to say about that.
I agree with your word choice- "enormous" is vastly different in scale from "considerable" and not a word I'd think of to be used in a scientific sense.

Anonymous said...

That is such a beautiful poem. I had forgotten how much I like to read Ellen Bass. Thank you for that.
I am disheartened about these times we are in. I had a fleeting bit of joy when I was vaccinated back in April. I thought if enough of us were fully vaccinated, we might be able to outpace this evolving virus. The Delta Variant and the un-vaccinated have awakened me to the new reality. I keep hoping for news that will change my mind about the future.
Yes, considerable is a much better word.

ellen abbott said...

it's astonishing to think, to now know, that there are many people out there who do believe such hogwash. how do they get to that place where all common sense disappears? like the microchip in the vaccine. have they seen the needle? it would have to be nano. I guess they really aren't any different than the people who are convinced the rapture is happening on a certain date and time and sell all their worldly goods and go wait on the mountaintop to be lifted up to heaven. 2,000 years and it hasn't happened. I'm guessing it's not going to.

love all the pictures of your garden. mine has been doing what it wanted for a month now. I did not get the mulch spread and it's too damn hot out there to do anything that takes longer than 10 minutes.

Colette said...

Thank you for insisting on that edit. Considerable is more honest and credible.

Steve Reed said...

We've reached the same stage with the garden -- for the most part, it's taking care of itself, and I'm just watching! The Fintan O'Toole quote is spot on.

am said...

Many thanks today and always.

Speaking of "stomachs," a few nights ago I dreamed that a woman who was a doctor was able to diagnose the issue related to my abdomen. Awake, I am not aware that I have an issue with my abdomen but in the dream I did. She told me that there was a "fossil" there. She showed me the "fossil" on an ultrasound. She assured me that it could be easily removed.

I felt considerable relief during but forgot the dream until I had been awake for some time. I am still feeling considerable relief. Thank you for that word!

37paddington said...

A good edit. Perhaps your young colleague will learn. Beautiful poem. Resilient and hopeful.

Elizabeth said...

Ellen Bass always, always has it going on. Love to you.

Pixie said...

Grief does like to linger. It really can't take a hint, follows one around and weighs one down. It's a part of life but it's just hard.

Hope you're feeling better soon.

Roderick Robinson said...

Fintan O'Toole has been one of the great recent journalistic discoveries for me. Hard and witty on Brexit; similarly on pandemic non-believers. Would that I could write like him.

Sabine said...

Totally agree with you.

This here is a good article about him: https://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/true-love-on-the-19a-26237379.html

Secret Agent Woman said...

A frightening subset of the population has lost its collective mind. That's all I can say.

I love cherries and apricots, and then had to google greengages.