Silver Linings

 

Silver Linings 

 

The New Yorker

January 29, 2018 

Price $8.99 

cover “Cruellest Month”

by Roz Chast 

 

flashback two years ago

before the pandemic 

a calendar 

counting down 

to the last day of January

starred, colorful, yellow

like sunshine 

clearly the finish line 

of a marathon month 

of hurdles 

all listed 

day by day

 

1- HANGOVER

2- LOSE KEYS IN SNOW

3- STILL JANUARY

4- BOMBO-GENESIS ?!?!?

5- SLIP ON ICE

6- KNIT SELF SCARF

7- SUNSET AT 11 A.M.

8- COLD

9- GRAY

10- WET

11- COLD, GRAY, AND WET

12- FROSTBITE

13- LEAVE SCARF ON TRAIN

14- HEAT WAVE

15- QUARTERLY TAXES DUE

16- ARCTIC BLAST

17- ICE STORM

18- UGH

19- FLU

20- FLU

21- FLU

22- STILL JANUARY

23- SLIP ON ICE

24- WHY ME, LORD?

25- CABIN FEVER

26- CROSS-TOWN BUS NEVER COMES

27- SLEET

28- WEIRD FROZEN PELLETS

29- SLIP ON ICE

30- DENTIST

31- *LAST* DAY OF JANUARY! 

 

a lone woman stands

surrounded by snow piles

shivering at a bus stop

green coat, lilac pants 

matching lilac pompom hat

black shoulder purse, black boots

 

framed by a solitary street pigeon

a snowman

a cityscape of skyscrapers shadowed by cold clouds

a hand-knitted scarf draping down the left edge, 

intermittent bands of springtime yellow and lilac

 

is this her calendar?

which day is she living?

maybe the cover date – January 29, 2018

 

but maybe not, since she isn’t lying on the pavement

after slipping on ice

 

no, she seems somewhere in between slipping

and looking relieved at the finish line

but clearly over having lost her scarf

 

she’s waiting on the bus to the dentist

 

did the prophetic artist

of “Cruellest Month” 

Roz Chast

know that the cruellest year 

ever – 2020 –

was on its way?

that we would be rewriting this calendar 

in daily

weekly

monthly 

at-a-glance cross-sections

of COVID-19 cruelty?

 

I envision a moment 

somewhere in this murky haze 

a teary smile of gratitude

on the face of the passenger

who discovered

the warmth of

a hand-knitted scarf

on the seat of the train

 

there are some silver linings

 

-Kim Johnson


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