When we get through this, I want us to set a table with all of the loaves of bread
we’d practiced in our quiet houses. I want us clutching fistfuls of the cilantro we coaxed
from our city windowsills, and I want the nascent musicians, the ones who learned
old songs on their new ukuleles, or warbled choruses on isolated balconies, to take
the stage together. I want all the knitted, crocheted, stitched, and mended things pooled
at our feet, warming our ankles. I want us to greet each other in unfamiliar languages,
to tell the stories of those who have been lost. I want us to look, in unison,
toward the world millions of miles and light-years away, to take in what is before us,
and beyond us. I want us to wake to the magnitude of our fortune against the smallness
of our time. And then I want us to remember this, and to keep remembering.
Now that we have passed that magical first year of this great unknown global experiment, now that spring is edging its way forward so that new possibilities seem within reach, there is a sense that things may shift. What this poet is calling when we get through this, is much more palatable to me than the frequent refrain of when things get back to normal, normal meaning any number of things we can’t all agree on.
I think at least some of us can agree that there is no going back. What Stein is offering us instead is the idea that all the things we did to support ourselves and others, the loaves of bread we’d practiced in our quiet houses, the herbs we grew on our windowsills, the songs we learned to play or sing, the handwork created – she wants all this to be brought together to share, to take the stage together.
She wants us to tell the stories of those who have been lost, not to forget them, to see what is right here before us in this very moment. She wants us to wake to the magnitude of our fortune against the smallness of our time – I especially like that line – to realize how many are the gifts, especially in times of uncertainty. Finally, she wants us to remember all of what has gone on and to keep remembering. It is through remembering what has been lost and what we have gained that we can go forward with new possibilities. This poem asks us to keep remembering.