How to Care

This entry is part 9 of 40 in the series Pandemic Year


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On the last day of April, Facebook gives us a new way to react: a care emoji. Yellow generic-person hugs a disembodied heart, perhaps the heart that absence makes fonder. But to older eyes, unless you squint, it looks like someone clutching an open wound.

taking shelter
under my umbrella

Such a long, cold, rainy April we’ve had. The death toll continues to climb, just as the scientists foretold. Already more Americans have died from COVID-19 than in the Vietnam War, they say — a comparison which has the unfortunate side-effect of making our imperial adventures seem like natural disasters. But it’s always hard to turn the dead into mere statistics. Picture instead a large stadium where the entire crowd has just perished. Or all the stumps in a 300-acre forest that’s just been clear-cut.

too wet to plant
fresh graves


Process notes

One of the few haibun in this series where the title didn’t come from the first line of a haiku. In fact, settling on the present title really helped me see the sort of haiku I needed for this. As is often the case, the haiku came to me on walks, both the two I used and three more I rejected, and I’ve managed to make the switch from a pocket notebook to my phone (the Notes app) for jotting down haiku ideas. I still do use the notebook a lot as well, especially for drafting the prose portion of a haibun while sitting out on the front porch. Haiku are short enough that the awkwardness of typing on a tiny screen isn’t much of an impediment.

I shot the footage a week ago and have just been waiting for it to summon something up.

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