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Thursday, December 02, 2021


by Joan Mazza

Animation showing the cause of Brownian motion, the random motion of visible particles (white spheres) in a gas or liquid. This random motion is caused by the particles colliding with the molecules or atoms (blue) in the surrounding gas or liquid. These molecules or atoms (shown here) are not visible to the human eye. This is represented by the blue spheres fading out midway through the animation. Credit CHRISTIAN KOCH, MICROCHEMICALS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

When I think of these many months of isolation,
nearly two years so far, I well up with gratitude
for this holiday season when I can eat at a table
of sixteen, no masks, no fear of breathing the air.
As I drive home from Thanksgiving, stuffed
full for the first time since I took control of my
gluttony, a new variant of Covid’s in the news,
already flying toward us on planes, inside

vaccinated humans traveling to celebrate or return
home. Invisible and insidious, this not-quite-living
piece of RNA only aims to reproduce itself, not
kill us, although it’s not wanting or thinking
anything, mindless as a living thing could be,
circulating, waiting for the right conditions
to dig in, like a seed in soil after a long winter.

They’re naming the variants with Greek letters,
like the extended list of names for hurricanes.
Soon, they’ll run out. Will they use the names
of stars or planets? Resort to letters and numbers?
This is our long winter. We lock down again,
stay home and write, reread books we loved
to delight in them as if they were new, hope

to germinate and bloom what’s fresh. We have
no idea how deadly these new mutations
will be, how contagious, or if it will surge
and fade without explanation, leave a mystery
until another blooms in the world’s swamp.
This is life: erratic and random as Brownian
motion. Unpredictable, beyond control.

Joan Mazza has worked as a microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops  on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self, and her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia where she writes every day.