(a partial inventory of things for which I grieve

in this time of pandemic)


Hugs and hands and friendly kisses.

A bar of soap in the dish, unremarkable and dry.

Going out to breakfast, pancakes and eggs, bacon

chatting with the waitress while waiting for you.

Driving to a meeting in town, boring, endless,

ordinary. College basketball. Baseball season.

Missing easy shots in tennis and losing my cool,

as if it mattered. Golden mornings passed

in silent meditation, my feet cold

on retreat, loving and being loved,

the soft sound of all of us breathing together,

as if it mattered. Being cold, being hot, wind,

rain, snow and sunburn. Sacred places,

Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, Dolomiti skies.

Cinque Torri at sunset, then again at dawn.

Parisian museums. Parisian meals. Parisian coffee.


Venice in the morning. Eating gelato in Rome.

Eating more gelato in Rome.

Aging simply but still feeling young.

Not being classified as vulnerable.

Not being classified.

Not needing to sanitize the keys in order to loan the car

to my son. Seeing my sons. Holding them.

Seeing my infant granddaughter. Holding her

even if it still makes her cry.

The illusion of safety.

The familiar smell of my personal cocoon.

Never having to consider case counts, respirators

or exponential curves.

Believing myself to be harmless to others (or mainly so.)

Belief in a particular future.

The future.

The freedom to ignore a simple cough.

Taking a single breath for granted.

Believing that time is continuous, endless and free.

Ignorance of the gray man stalking the streets

counting breaths.

A committed belief in Death

as an abstraction.


© 2020 jafink/


For my friends and family who share the periodic shadow of depression.  Not all days are created equal….



The barrage of advice

is endless. Use your brightest

colors, sharpest lines, be cheerful!

But eventually, we each must paint

with whatever colors we see, especially

on days like this, when your heart feels like a large

dead fish—cold and heavy and hard, when the air

has gone to syrup and all of space thickens

sinking down around your head like a dark

sheet drawn tight

and tighter




There are no yellows here no

gold. Today is a day for purples

and black, for indigo and blood-

red, for fat brushes marking wide sluggish

stokes over the canvas, of just trying to cover the cracks

and leave no white corners, no spaces, then signing

the work by pressing your face full-on

into the thick black paint in the

corner in the hope that you

might finally escape

this day




©Old Bones, New Snow/J.A. Fink 2014