As stock markets bump themselves ever lower, illusions of stability dance in our heads. All manner of fantasies of what might have been, what might have put down roots there and flowered further on, dance in our heads. Regrets of why didn’t I (invest sooner, sell sooner, do something sooner, …), surface, and circle about.

Isn’t this America? This isn’t supposed to happen to the greatest empire ever seen! It should have been some distant relative of Attila that did us in, not something smaller than a grain of sand caught under a toenail.

With the economy revealing it has been built on a shifting sandbar, the fragility of every aspect of life stands in starker relief. Food? Shortages looming. Farmer’s increase a choice of suicide before losing their farm. Famine in the midst of plenty—there is plenty of irony to chew on, though. Health? Physicians going down, the toughest nurses weeping, PPE compromised—time to relearn a healing hum. Shelter? Rent relief for a season followed by eviction and squatting—O for a tarp and staff from Boy Scout years. Relationships? A glint in the eye and cough in the face, who can be trusted—rosy-fingered dawn … and you.

Presumably, a different economy is creeping in as this one fades. Like it or not, transitions like this are never linear. In corporate America, a rose is not a rose is not a rose—it is multi-leveled profit.

While working our way through quarantine-time you might want to review an old poem, Sacred Emily, by Gertrude Stein (see if you can spot the famous rose line). While there, there is time to wonder if a person is a flower, whether it’s the same flower every year, might it be roses all the way down?

If you still have time—punctuationally, what is the purpose of a period? Does this poem have anything to say about finality or transition? Did you note the lines that did not end in a period? How do they play together? If those questions don’t have any traction, what small part of your life would you honor with a triple repetition? Begging? Happy? Pale?

In the end, frail Rose/rose fades. Happiness is bounded by necessity.

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