by Elizabeth Fowler Sullivan
SPRING AWAKENS, MARCH 27, 2020
Spring awakes and I am waking too.
Walking into my garden, I’m surrounded by a disarmingly bright and
Rays of the sun lure blossoms from tenacious, encompassing growth.
Only the sounds a gentle breeze can rustle and the singing of birds
can be heard.
But there is a strangeness in this calm… a kind of surreal eeriness that
engulfs me, here in this familiar place.
The street is empty. My neighbors stay within their walls, safe from the coming onslaught of the deadly Coronavirus, the one that must touch its victims in order to replicate and thrive. Given a name, but still unseen by the naked eye, it is the mighty enemy who has moved around the world to where I am.
Being old and vulnerable, I’m told to stay six feet away from another person. While heroes put their lives in danger to save me, I must simply try to stay well and unexposed. I can only watch and be full of gratitude for the sacrifices they are making…
six feet away, yet closer than we’ve ever been before.
Elizabeth Fowler Sullivan
March 27, 2020
SCULPTING CHAOS, APRIL 6, 2020
My friend said that I try to “sculpt Chaos.”
All of us who stood
on stages now unlit,
and in places, whose seats are Pandemic Empty,
We, who would be singing, dancing, performing in our many ways,
We go to our windows and applaud into the canyons of sky scrapers
for those courageous ones who, in weariness, work on -
give breath to those who cannot breathe.
And weeping, we do what we do –
search for new and satisfying forms within a devastating confusion.
Lyrics are being written
in phrases not used before.
Melodies, never heard in the past,
appear on music scores.
Dialogues, fresh from our latest thoughts,
are born for characters to speak.
Steps that dancers never dreamed,
are conjured as I write.
Colors, on palettes, are blended
in ways never seen.
Chisels of Sculptors are sharpened
to stab a killer virus heart.
Elizabeth Fowler Sullivan, whose friend is Kathryn Weissberger
April 6, 2020
EASTER, APRIL 12, 2020
The Coronavirus Pandemic rages, as I, quarantined, tend my garden.
Unthreatened, my plants are thriving.
Unaware, they do not see me smile
at how, in the pain and dying,
they lend beauty and hope for a while.
Elizabeth Fowler Sullivan
April 12, 2020
WHITE MAN'S KNEE ON A BLACK MAN'S NECK, JUNE 4, 2020
White man’s knee on a black man’s neck
and all the world can see
throngs of people are marching strong
against its travesty.
Something’s new in this movement now –
a tactic not been used.
Arms held high to protest what’s wrong
have skins of colors fused.
Elizabeth Sullivan, June 8, 2020
The Day of George Floyd's Funeral
IN TANDEM, JUNE 19, 2020
In tandem they took.
Hate robbed the breath of the black man –
the virus, the lungs of the world.
Together they came –
each robber the same –
leaving death for the body and soul.
“I can’t breathe,” the black man said,
with spittled virus hangin’ all around.
Bringing death, the robbers came
and crept inside each host without a sound.
Racial scourge is stranglin’ still.
Pandemic sick and dying take their toll.
Takers of the breath of life
have come to steal the body and the soul.
TOUCH, JULY 8, 2020
“Why should I dress?” I said to myself. And as if I needed to hear what I was
thinking, I said it aloud.
I’m doing it more and more these days… this talking to myself.
It made sense, my questioning as to why it was necessary to get out of my
pajamas - get ready to be seen - when there would be no one coming to call.
They would, if they could. They’d come to visit, if it were not wiser that they stay
away. I’d go to visit them, if it were not better to “Stay Home,” as I’ve been
advised to do.
The Pandemic drones on… the Coronavirus continues to search indiscriminately
for an unsuspecting host to invade and replicate.
Those of us who believe in science take care of others, as well as ourselves. We
wear masks, avoid getting closer than 6 feet away, and wash our hands often.
We believe that we must stop the spreading of the killer virus.
We find ways to see and hear one another. We Skype, text, e-mail, telephone,
and sometimes surprise ourselves by writing a letter.
Going into our gardens, we dig in the fertile soil and enjoy the pungent smell of
rich earth – look forward to the taste of its yield.
But of all the senses that we as humans rely upon, Touch (the most primal of
them all) is being denied us in this Pandemonium. No shaking of hands, no
greeting with hugs… no holding of loved ones as they die.
When this dark time is over… when I don’t need to talk to myself anymore…
when I can toss my masks, go and come – see, hear, smell and taste at will, I’m
sure that the sense of touch will be the one I least take for granted.
Never will I embrace without weeping in gratitude.
July 8, 2020
JOHN LEWIS, "THE BOY FROM TROY", JULY 30, 2020
You take your place in history -
It’s a unique niche inside it.
Your compass found the moral path
to a righteous fighting spirit.
Protesting was your armament.
And in calm you faced the anger.
You stepped each step upon that bridge
with a courage found in danger.
With fractured skull and blood you’ve served -
often bound in jail’s entrapment.
And never flinching from the pain,
you have kept your firm commitment.
Sleep now dear soldier, in your peace,
As you lay aside your mantle.
You’ve taught us well by being you.
We’ll persist within “Good Trouble.”
July 30, 2020
MASK, AUGUST 4, 2020
Pointing to my mask I say, “Underneath, I’m smiling!”
And they smile back – I think they do – I see it in their eyes.
Mine is the uniform of age, but I can wage war too.
My weapon is a shielded nose and mouth – such a little thing to do.
But it is known to change the course of this Pandemic surge.
I am a “non-essential” soldier…
signed up because I breathe.
I stay six feet apart and work from home, from which I seldom leave.
But when I do, I hurry home and all alone I hunker down - protect myself and others.
August 4, 2020
PANDEMIC PAIR, AUGUST 10, 2020
I’m knowing you – Me –
as I’ve not known you before.
And here we shall be
just the two of us, no more.
Together placed – bound
in a space within the storm
that gave no sign – sound –
for its strange illusive form.
Let’s use this time – dare
to disclose the inner view
that captives have – share,
for we must – to each – be true.*
Our souls laid bare, we
will find hope to overcome.
Then in such joy – see
what through crisis we’ve become.
August 10, 2020
*“To thine own self be true,” Shakespeare penned.
CAULDRON OF TROUBLE, AUGUST 14, 2020
This cauldron of trouble that’s boiling
has been brewing for 400 years.
Now here in the mix there’s a virus!
And we call better angels through tears.
When founding, our forefathers missed it!
And the fraught civil war did not right
what slavery caused when beginning
endless battles we still come to fight!
Through greed and such hate we still linger,
while contagion so viciously feeds.
Until there’s a day of great healing,
we must go where the “Good Trouble”* leads.
August 14, 2020
* John Robert Lewis 1940 – 2020
I can hear him screaming “VOTE!”
Although the University of Oklahoma is trying very hard to accommodate the needs of its students and faculty, my grandson, who lives with me while he finishes his senior year at OU – much online, some by masked attendance – fears (because of the laxity of state mandates) the possibility of bringing the virus home to Grandma.
My daughter, KT Sullivan, is Artistic Director of the Mabel Mercer Foundation of Cabaret in NYC. For over 20 years, I’ve spent months in NYC performing music with my family, from Danny’s Skylight Room to Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. I struggle with the politics of Oklahoma and envy New Yorkers, who thrive in the diversity there – the inclusiveness I’ve witnessed year after year. I rejoice with every victory you are winning, while longing for your kind of guidance over the whole of our nation.
Sincerely, Elizabeth Sullivan
DEAR GOVERNOR CUOMO, SEPTEMBER 20, 2020
Dear Governor Cuomo,
I am a 90 year old widow in Norman, Oklahoma, and I want to express my gratitude to you, a leader I quicky trusted to tell me what I so needed to know about the Coronavirus Pandemic. Watching your television appearances faithfully from the beginning of the onslaught, I was sure that you were reporting to me the actual tragedies and victories. I was made aware that I should stay at home, wear my mask when I had to venture out, and wash my hands thoroughly and often. You kept me informed as to what Science had to share. And you always closed with Love and Hope.
Since those days of daily communication with you, I have continued to seek out every comment you make. Oh, how we need leadership at the national level – leadership which lets Science guide our behavior in this worldwide catastrophe.
When I was a girl of 11, I sat close to my mother, father and brother as we listened intently to the voice of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by means of our family radio. Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the date he said would “live in infamy.” He gave us the truth – the awful reality of our situation. He informed us as to what we could do to wage war against the madness we faced. Then he told us of his faith in us – our ability to understand our dilemma – and of the need to stand together for the victory we must win. Again and again he’d come to us… telling us the truth, letting us know how to help and then – unfailingly – he’d close with Love and Hope. I thought of you, as I heard (this time seeing as well) your 2020 messages. You did what our president did at the start of our entrance into the second World War. Winston Churchill did the same as bombs fell on his people. He gave them facts, plans for action, then Inspiration. Truth tellers trust their listeners. Would that listeners respond by trusting the ones who speak Truth.
You gave the Truth, the Plan, the Hope and Love that winning requires. You, following scientific data, showed NYC and the nation how. You’ve caused many people of other states to long for your kind of leadership. They feel as though they are passengers on a ship without a captain. Unfortunately, there are those on board who don’t want to be directed by scientific knowledge.
Handwritten PS to Governor Cuomo
RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SEPTEMBER 22, 2020
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice
Born March 15, 1933
Died September 18, 2020
As if springing from the roots of
Moses and Deborah,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
judged from the righteous calling of justice for all.
With a sense of responsibility,
tenacious determination, and willingness to undergo
the pain of her quest,
she used her intellect and wisdom to create a
legacy to crave.
September 22, 2020
WINGS, JANUARY 6, 2021
I long today for something like
the wings of birds in flight
that hinged upon my heavy heart
would lift and make it light.
In darkness nightingales can sing.
And oh, the peaceful dove
who also symbols in the sky
the rising high above
whatever weights the weary soul
or shakes one’s very core.
I would, like them, escape just now
and with the eagle soar!
Insurrection of the Capitol Building of the United States of America
January 6, 2021