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Sunday, January 09, 2022


by Barbara Simmons

“In the weightlessness of space.” Oil on canvas painting by Anastasia Balabina (Ukraine).

We tell ourselves stories in order to live. —Joan Didion

What were the stories that seemed mental U-turns,
that needed returning to, never ending?  At year’s
end, 2021’s review heralded tales most told,
the big look back compactly written,
the headlines sculpting what had happened
into what we should remember.
I’ve skimmed the stories alphabetically, but find the letter C
for COVID is my alpha, tireless virus with infinite variations. I 
flip quickly to the Fed, to China, climate, revivals
on Broadway, deaths we expected someday, but maybe
not this year, like Didion’s, Sondheim’s, Tutu’s.
The story I return to most takes me on SpaceX travels,
finding weightlessness a way to reconstruct my sight,
no longer lineated up and down,
but now a new fluidity, a chance to stream myself beyond
the time and space of just one journey,
just one life, to understand how we are multitudes,
how we are singular, how we are both chorus, soloist, conductor
in a musical rendition of this year reviewed
and what we need most is to listen to stories we’ve composed,
and play
and play
and play
until we fully hear.

Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston, graduated from Wellesley, and now lives in San Jose. As a secondary school English teacher, she loved her students who inspired her to think about the many ways we communicate. Retired, she savors exploring words as ways to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, always trying to understand human-ity. Publications have included Hartskill Review, Boston Accent, The New Verse News, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, Writing it Real, Capsule Stories: Isolation Edition, and OASIS. Her book of poetry Offertories: Exclamations and Disequilibriums will be published in Spring 2022.