when we get through this Maya Stein

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.

when we get through this

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.

14 thoughts on “when we get through this Maya Stein

  1. I love this poem, Jan. I’ve spent good deal of time with it this winter and I agree with you about not going back. I worried for a while over the course of the pandemic that we might never “get thru this”, that we might be stuck in the dreadfulness of 2020 for a long long time. And still I’ve held onto the hope that when we do get thru this we’ll find we’ve changed for the better and we’ll see it all in perspective, the drama of the pandemic will fall in its historic place, and the losses of life and work and money and time, will not overwhelm us.


  2. Thank you for these doses of spirit-raising and hope that you share, Jan. I always love reading your thoughts about the piece because they are equally warm and thoughtful and hope-carrying. Best to all. We are getting through this together, as strangers even. Isn’t that lovely??


  3. Dear Annie, how delightful to hear from you, thank you for your warm words. Getting through this together with strangers even is most definitely lovely! happy spring!! xoxox


  4. Thank you Jan. I the poems you share and am always looking forward to your weekly posts. They speak to me, I enjoy and learn from them a great deal. Grateful for your wisdom in choosing the right poem at the right moment.


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