Pandemic Tashlich, 5781

Content warning: Very, very low mood themes with macro-level topics of deep distress. (But/and, also, a kitten.)

It’s almost Rosh HaShanah. Tashlich during global health, climate, and sociopolitical crises is not like during “other” times.

I think about Inquisition-time Tashlich, surviving (and, enduring, but not surviving) Nazis when it was time for Tashlich, doing Tashlich in prison. I know none of these experiences, personally, but I know of them, and I know the Tashlich of now.

This is not a happy morning, during the six month global health pandemic mark.

No morning should begin with learning that migratory birds are dying in unprecedented numbers, because they were forced to leave too soon, with inadequate nutrition, due to fires, and couldn’t make the trip, but then huddled in large groups prior to their deaths. I hope the huddling helped them suffer less.

No morning should begin with knowing that a young child and his grandmother could not be rescued from a fire. I’m glad they were together. They should still be here.

Ignoring or denying climate change may be an opinion. It also might be immoral.

No morning should begin with learning that the air quality is so bad across multiple states that people must stay inside–if they have homes.

No morning should begin with an ongoing fear that a fascist will win a second presidential term–yet, in my own neighborhood, there are Trump signs, as well as Biden signs. I support freedom of speech and belief, but passing these signs upsets me, more than I can say.

My beloved cat familiar died 12 days ago, after a sudden, vitriolic illness. He sent me a kitten to foster. I will adopt her. When my cats died during (not due to) the flooding in 2006, it took 10 1/2 years for me to be ready to adopt a cat, again. But, these are not those times.

So, here’s a picture of a kitten stretching. Her name is Deva Airbender. Deva is pronounced Day-vah. She is not a diva.

I believe in simultaneous truths, meaning that there is a global pandemic of racism, and the world is likewise replete with ableism, misogyny, classism, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, biphobia, and so many other recalcitrant forces of badness and ignorance.

But/and, the imperiled migratory birds who are still alive will hopefully be able to recuperate. No more children will hopefully be harmed–or worse–in these fires. The air quality will hopefully shift, again, with the weather and seasonal changes. And, I’ve given you a picture of a stretching kitten.

I don’t know what L’shanah Tovah means, this year, but I’m trying.

The west burns, the east floods, the north and south melt.

Saying Australopithecus afarensis is anti-depressive. If utterances aren’t for you, you can spell with your hands, type, or point to pictures of small bones in glass.

A seven month old silver tabby kitten with a cocoa undercoat stretches in a standing position on a grey couch. Her back is arched and her tail is curled. She looks straight ahead with her green and golden eyes.

Published by:

Diane R. Wiener

Diane R. Wiener (she/they) is the author of The Golem Verses (Nine Mile Press, 2018), Flashes & Specks (Finishing Line Press, 2021), and The Golem Returns (swallow::tale press, 2022). Her poems also appear in Nine Mile Magazine, Wordgathering, Tammy, Queerly, The South Carolina Review, Welcome to the Resistance: Poetry as Protest, Diagrams Sketched on the Wind, Jason’s Connection, the Kalonopia Collective’s 2021 Disability Pride Anthology, and elsewhere. She has poetry forthcoming in eMerge Magazine. Diane’s creative nonfiction appears in Stone Canoe, Mollyhouse, The Abstract Elephant Magazine, Pop the Culture Pill, and eMerge Magazine. Her flash fiction appears in Ordinary Madness; short fiction is published in A Coup of Owls. Diane has published widely on disability, pedagogy, and empowerment, among other subjects. She blogged for the Huffington Post between May 2016 and January 2018. Diane served as Nine Mile Literary Magazine’s Assistant Editor after being Guest Editor for the Fall 2019 Special Double Issue on Neurodivergent, Disability, Deaf, Mad, and Crip poetics. Diane is the Editor-in-Chief of Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature, housed at Syracuse University.

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