American INSIGHT editor’s note:
We are all confined, to one degree or another, by the strictures of COVID-19 quarantine orders. Each of us responds in different ways to the limitations. Many worry, of course, about the well-being of loved ones. Some chafe at being told we can’t go out to restaurants, mingle with friends or wander our downtown haunts. Others struggle to survive, emotionally or economically. Everyone must find their own ways to cope.
As in any disaster, art somehow rears its lovely head to help make sense of our times. In some instances, the results are spectacular. Pablo Picasso’s 1937 Guernica is one of the most famous anti-war paintings in history. Needless to say, we aren’t all Picasso. Maybe our artful efforts won’t go down in history. Nonetheless, they bring meaning and insight to our experiences.
Jennifer Mitchell Miller is a writer and editor in Des Moines, Iowa. She’s the daughter of a longtime—now deceased and dearly missed—friend of mine whose lifetime accomplishment may well be raising a woman of Jennifer’s brilliance, humor, ability and occasionally wickedly pointed insights. After a week or two of COVID-confinement, Jennifer began writing what she calls QKUs—quarantine haikus. Some are poignant, some are unexpected, some are laugh-out-loud funny [she her take on bras].
As it happens, Jennifer is not alone. Iowa National Public Radio did a piece for National Poetry Month about people writing social distancing haiku. [Haiku is the traditional Japanese poetry form consisting of a three-line format: 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. You can share your haiku on Twitter @NPRLifeKit with the hashtag #socialdistancinghaiku].
Here are a few of Jennifer Mitchell Miller’s QKUs. Let her art inspire yours.
A new world’s flotsam —
Whose infected breath lives here?
Who will pick it up?
His mate must be near.
Or he’s singing for no one,
Just passing the time.
It lived in the back
But now, a tour of duty,
At last called to serve.
No one to notice –
It was inevitable.
Steps went somewhere once
When there was somewhere to go.
My kids took them there.
THIS is the color.
I want to eat it. Breathe it.
Disappear in it.