Opinion

Stay-at-Home Front

Day Four: ‘There was a whiff on the wind’

Does any remember how to deconstruct poetry?

Dandelion seed head. Credit: Greg Hume via Wikimedia Commons.
Dandelion seed head. Credit: Greg Hume via Wikimedia Commons.
Carin M. Smilk
Carin M. Smilk
Carin M. Smilk is managing editor of the U.S. bureau of JNS.

And they’re off! My husband and college sophomore left to go back to his campus, and lug all his books and belongings out of the dorm and back home. Like so many other schools, his is closed for the rest of the semester, and he’ll move to online learning.

Where we’ll put all that stuff, I don’t know.

That’s the hardest part, the not knowing. Suddenly, I feel that I know so little. I keep getting emails describing this virus and the symptoms and what to do and what not to do, but I’m not a medical person, and the info is just swimming around in my head along with so many other things right now (mainly, that I have to defrost the chicken for tomorrow night).

For journalists, for information people, the misinformation is especially frustrating. Weeding out the truth in emergencies and breaking news is never easy, but you’d think we’d have grasped some of the hard-core details about this coronavirus.

We’re told not to congregate, and yet, the lines in the supermarkets can be up to 10 or 15 people. We’re told to distance ourselves, and did I see crowds on some beach for spring break? We’re told to stay home, but my husband reports that sure, there are cars on the road (though they did shave a half-hour off the usual four-hour drive).

Israel seems to have it right. What appeared draconian rules by its leadership at first seems to be halting the spread and bit and saving lives (to date, there have been no deaths there, though that probably, sadly, cannot last). But they’ve been through hardship so many times before and Israelis are so resilient; they know how to buckle down as rockets fly into their country almost daily from its bordering “neighbors.”

We, well, we are a bit soft. And forgetful.

Like, does any remember how to deconstruct poetry?

OK, I realize that was a big leap, but I am being serious (albeit regarding a far less serious topic).

Our lesson for the day: poems. From a kids’ book called Winter Poems, even though this year on the East Coast, winter seemed to pass us by. And not just any winter poem; let’s pick a doozy, shall we?

From “Blossom Themes” by Carl Sandburg:

Late in the winter came one day

When there was a whiff on the wind,

a suspicion, a cry not to be heard

of perhaps blossoms, perhaps green

grass and clean hills lifting rolling shoulders.

Does the nose get the cry of spring

first of all? Is the nose thankful

and thrilled, first of all?

We tackled verbs, adjectives, personification, metaphors, the senses, the seasons, enunciation when reading poetry … it went surprisingly well.

And should be timely, too. They’re predicting a high of 78 degrees tomorrow.

Does the nose get the cry of spring?

Carin M. Smilk is the managing editor of JNS.

This Reporter’s Notebook will appear starting on March 16 until the end of the month (or when schools reopen).

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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