November 16, 2020

What I Learned About Myself Through This Pandemic:

Sara Robinson

I have managed to have some organization and direction in my life. Not much, but at least some things have been completed. A new publisher approached me, and I took this as a lifeline, dusted off an old manuscript draft, worked on some pieces, and sent it off to them. This summer it was published, and I perked up…. for a bit. Still COVID-19 free.

Then I got new car fever and had to have a reality check as my current car is a 2018 with only 15,000 miles on it. What was I thinking, my financial advisor asked? I responded I was not thinking, I was bored. He worked me through that by convincing me to donate some money to the Food Bank. And that not only made better sense, but then I did feel better. Food is love after all. Remain COVID-19 free.

I have been doing some reading and Zooming with friends. I keep getting these emails from Zoom, though, that want me to enroll in Zoom 101 courses. I really do not want to know that much about Zoom. What did Zoom ever do for poetry? I need live audiences to read to. When I am on the computer screen, it is not really me. It is some type of weird avatar. People look too relaxed, too comfortable on Zoom. At least from the waist up. Poets need to see pain and lots of emotion, especially positive head-nodding. We are an insecure bunch and while our writing is personal, we really need support of the masses. I am COVID-19 free.

What else have I done? Well, I have not learned any new tricks, but my dog has. His name is Oscar, and he does two things very well: Says “uh-huh” perfectly and can twirl around for a treat. He sleeps well, too, which is something I have not done so great. That’s’ another thing. Sleep, or lack thereof. We have too much stuff going on in this country for me to sleep well. I watch Oscar sleep and I am so envious. He watches me eat, and is envious, so I guess we are even in that regard. Oscar and I are COVID-19 free.

But back to writing. I have worked on some new poetry and I should pay stronger attention to focus. However, I reward myself by numerous rounds of spider solitaire before I have done anything to earn the reward. I am bored. So, what to do? I did eat a Kit-Kat bar leftover from Halloween, only it was a momentary satisfaction. I am reduced to sniffing the wrapper now. I can still smell, so I must be COVID-19 free.

How to go forward? Well, I ordered a custom-designed throw for my childhood friend. We both turn 74 soon. That did help since I used as artwork a picture of us on one of my earlier poetry books with the title poem overlayed on it. How do I move forward? I did put some boots in my cart on Amazon. It took me sometime to decide what color. Oscar came upstairs and I gave him a treat. I am writing this. My friend tested positive for COVID-19, then eventually negative. I am COVID-19 free, but nervous. Am I alone?

Pandemic survival is not for sissies, and it certainly is not for poets. We need inspiration and we need it constantly. There is only so much digging around in my sofa cushions and my brain that I can do. Some of us did rescue a little Eastern River Cooter a couple of weeks ago. I held it in my hand, and then we took it to the river. I made a note about it as a possible insertion into a poem: The turtle relaxed a little in my hand and looked me in the eye. I blinked first.

I have a friend who says she cannot take it anymore. She is 92 and I tell her she needs to keep writing dark poetry. She is given me a few to read, and I tell her she is not there yet. I do not want her to cross that finish line. She laughs at herself and tells me I need to lighten up. She is right.

She is not bored. She and I are still COVID-19 free. She did ask if I knew where she could hemlock.

I told her to try Amazon. She is likely not alone.

I have something to look forward to: Susan R and I will Zoom call each other in a couple of days. I can tell she is not bored. I need to find out what she is doing. In the meantime, I saw a sweater the other day, and I think I will put that in my cart. Just in case. I am not cold. I am scared.

Oh, what a lovely day this has been so far. I am COVID-19 free. Oscar and I have matching masks.

Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, is poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. In addition to publication in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), and Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017); journals: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica, she is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013), and Stones for Words (2014). Her latest poetry book, Sometimes the Little Town, released in February 2016, was a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award.


  1. Thank you, Sara for your testimony. Inspiring!

  2. Thank you Sara for posting today. It is not always easy to look within, but I always learn so much when I do.


  3. Loved this! You write poetry even when you blog!