The Rite of Spring

by Marc Frazier

The Adoration of the Earth

How it begins the seed stirring like a bird becoming a bird becoming more like we become more this time of year. And in the air a new threat added to the old ones. A cold spring and damp. It’s easy not to notice the daffodils, the red tulips, forsythia. I start out on my daily walk. The mask heats me up. It’s all too much. Masks, gloves, wiping things down. It’s like living in an operating room. I nod at the postman, a weak hello. I wash my hands vigorously after taking in the mail. It’s like we are living in two dystopias now, the political and the public health one. There’s talk of snow flurries. In May. Reading Facebook will do it. Man’s inhumanity to man, that cliché literature trope. Is human nature human? I wonder sometimes. A man wiped his nose on a store employee because she asked him to wear a mask. Hundreds of stories like this. Thousands. Angry, armed domestic terrorists storming state capitols. I notice two trees with tight, bright red buds that will become leaves. I want to adore the earth. These flowers, these trees frozen in their growth.

The Sacrifice

I want to read a long, old-fashioned letter. Or write one. I want the old ways. In any form. I cross Lombard Avenue heading toward Buzz Cafe for a to-go latte. Everything is to-go now. We can’t pause for long, except within the confines of our own walls that grow closer daily. At times I feel like that character in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, hearing the beating, thinking I will be found out for who I am. That kind of claustrophobia. I note the boarded-up 7-11, another economic casualty. A squirrel dashes up an old oak. I walk around Barrie Park. Yellow tape surrounds the playground. A slight mist begins. A group of soccer players kick a ball. They are not supposed to be here. The parks are closed. Do I turn them in? It seems we are always monitoring others’ behavior. Asking whose rights come first. In Catholic grade school we were taught to respect our elders. So many are being rolled out on gurneys these days from nursing homes. No more than ten spaced-apart mourners can attend the service. “There will be deaths,” say politicians as they panic to reopen the country. In Italy they say the younger generation is now virtually without grandparents. After my three times around the park, I head back home. I want that feeling of longing to be back in the warm nest of my home after a trip away instead of hunkering down in it as my place to shelter. What I need is someone to blame. Besides the President. In ancient Greece, human scapegoats (pharmakos) were used to allay a plague. We need to draw lots like in “The Lottery” and stone someone. Instead, ill winds, a frozen spring.

Marc Frazier has published poetry for decades in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, The Gay and Lesbian ReviewSlant, Permafrost, and Poet Lore. He has memoir in Gravel, The Good Men Project, decomP, et al. His fiction appears in Flash Fiction Magazine and Autre. His three poetry collections are available online. See Marc Frazier Author page on Facebook, @marcfrazier45 on Twitter, or marcfrazier45 on Instagram. Bill Mazza is a visual artist using chance, duration, and accumulation to reinterpret landscape as a relationship of people to their mediated environments, through painting, performance, and community-building collaborations.

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