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The Myth of Normalcy - by Brooke Sarden

During this time, we all have wondered about when things will return to "normal". Check out this piece written by CTC staff'er, Brooke Sarden, our Youth and Cultural Programs Director in conjunction with Civic Saturdays. Click here to check out the full broadcast. Stay well. Stay safe.

The Myth of Normalcy

May we never forget the questions raised in

the relative quiet:

What is essential? What is not?

Who is essential and who is not?

How dare we ask that question?

How dare we ignore that question?

Who are we to judge?

Who better to judge than us?

May our newfound sense of “us-we”

become cellular memory.

May the not-so-peculiar loneliness haunt


Remind us of what’s changed

Or remained woefully, unbearably same

Since before the incident.

Viral outbreak. Type: pandemic

As our gazes search the horizon for relief

Remember that we are still in it.

This moment now needs our attention

If we rush there will be leave behinds

We’ve been there, done that

This world.

I keep wondering if COVID’S the only thing

we’re sick with.

On lockdown, my friends and neighbors

went straight to swapping homemade pies

Like it was something else they were trying

to cure:

All this distance between us?

Flour, butter, sugar, space and time we’ve

forgotten to share.

On lockdown, some of our students went

straight to being hungry.

And quick came the “rules” on what we

could do about that… and for a while the

rules sounded like “no.”

Civilization can be mean.

White coats say for most of us the disease,

it’s a-symptomatic.

But fever is not the only thing that has us


What’s the temperature where you are?

Is it like this where you are?

We talk-talk-talk quarantine-talk

We walk-talk

We sing pray

Our tongues are dripping with aftermath.

Lips quiver with effect.

I put my ear to the Creative Underground:

“Social distancing is social overload,” she


“There are eight people in my house. We

are supposed to be safer at home.

I have headaches.”

“This is what God wants to do,” he says.

The one tear in his eye is acceptance.

“Being an empath is hard right now…. She

says, “People are… WEIRD.”

I can’t help but laugh.

He said, “The extroverts are so sad”

She asked how you balance the fear of

scarcity with the need for sharing

So many wondering eyes.

So many burdens.

So many breathtakingly beautiful things

we’ve created to fulfill the void.

Timelines teeming with visions of

handmade loveliness

Too many stories never heard.

Tales we think are too small to tell.

The still for some of us is chaos for others.

Our should be brothers and should be


Are trying to tell us they’re not alright. And

they are not points on a graph.

Our children are showing us how it can be


They are wonderfully loud in play!

When they’re getting on your nerves.

They have our laps to sit on for the first

time in such a long time…

What do you hear when you really listen?

Amid the whimpering and wailing, is there

good news?

Who do you tell?

What mind are you making up in

preparation for what comes next?

The World has gotten small y’all…

If the criteria is common anxiety, I got ‘bout

7.8 billion kin folk

Maybe when this thing is “over”

Y’all can all come on to Memphis,

Plenty riverside, folding chairs, and

whateveryou like on the grill

We got it and bring some foil take home

what you want to your people…

We are a poor city with plenty love.

The bass bumpin’ from somebody’s car

Will wear down this accumulated confusion,

sadness, grief

Separation, we’ve been curled up with all

these weeks…

If we can just hurry up and get to “this thing

being over”…

Is that realistic?

I’m scared that over won’t means what we

think it means

Will we remember our enlightenment?

Will we do enough to take care of those

who’ve been taking care of us

And haven’t had the time to be


Those who didn’t lose a loved one,

but lost ten, twenty, forty of ours, maybe


And felt helpless

Slipped right from the tightest grip of their


How will we care for them?

How will I know,

When once again, the choice is mine

When to move?

When to be still?

They’re saying outright the world has

forever changed.

I want us to make sure of that.

Let these losses not be in vain.

Let us-we proclaim that life before was not


Normal is what you name your cat

Normal is a lie we swear never again to tell.

Take the time to count to the beat of 7.8

billion hearts.

Band together no matter how difficult or

how long that takes

Hashtag “don’t rush” and mean it. Every

soul is worth lingering on.

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