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Children: They Abide

Rockville, Maryland 20852

Remembering children through the years has helped me find resilience. As adults we know the consequences of actions and events around us, but children have an optimism about the future that seems to be inborn, even though the world is mysterious and they have many questions. I think of my Great Aunt Mamie, who was a child during the Civil War, and my immigrant, 10-year-old father whose brother died of rheumatic fever during the Depression. I think of myself, isolated from my siblings in a darkened room at the back of my grandmother's house when I had the measles and my brother had scarlet fever in the 1950's during the red scare. And I think of my grandson now who is going to virtual kindergarten in San Diego, who told me to "Go to Google to find out when the virus ends." Somehow these children all endure, and we will. As Lillian Gish says at the end of the movie, "The Night of the Hunter," "Lord save the little children. The wind blows and the rains are cold, yet they abide." I have participated in the NPG Writing Hours over the course of the pandemic, and here is a poem I wrote to capture these thoughts: Through a Child's Eye: In the Quiet of Questions 1860's: Civil War Mamie played on the lawn while mother hung laundry. Saw river ships in the water strip between Canada and Cape Vincent on the St. Lawrence. Black-crowned faces ushered through shadows, crossed silent in the shallows To the river through narrows. Heard voices of war, solaced soldiers swore-- Half limbed, half souls In the quiet of questions. 1930's: Rheumatic Fever Mickey rattled through alleys, whooped and rolled hoops With stave swords to stave off the fever. Air thick with the clatter of chatter in aisles and halls With incense thick to clear the sick atmosphere. Rheumatic cloying in the fog of weak breathing and death to a sibling. Lost brother, the morgue, In the quiet of questions. (1950's: Measles, Scarlet Fever, Red Scare) Cindy stayed still in the study. Read at the desk, under the green glass lamp. Elbow next to the Smith Corona. Faced the black shade blocking light rays Left from the war fought before she was born. Books stacked near a paint box, white for the dusting Of air collecting about the house. Brush dipped in scarlet, the color, the rage in the room of the isolate. Fever rose, away, away. red scare, red scape In the quiet of questions. (2020's: Corona Virus) Davis dove into a rainbow, inside out and outside in So close to Purim, Esther's face was hidden, Masked by a veil so no one could tell Who she was. Come fly, P.J. Masks--heroes while virus swirls behind masks. Flying monkeys swarm to form Corona, a crown? Inside out and outside in, coloring and cowering Under the bed linen In the quiet of questions.

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