By: Josh Feit
On March 23, 2020, the governor issued a proclamation directing
all residents, except “Essential Workers," to immediately heed a stay home order.
In addition to grocery workers, canine units, healthcare workers, and weather forecasters; workers at liquor stores that sell food, HVAC engineers, and Baklava makers; the Defense Industrial Base Sector and bank employees;
the list of essential workers also included artists.
Artists and musicians providing services through streaming or other technology.
My nieces always talked about their notebooks being filled with words of those who had returned.
Years ago, I found myself sitting across from a bank employee, much younger than me. I wanted to open a checking account.
Disproportionately gleeful, the young man began conducting the interview. Was I planning to buy a house or a car or getting married? He paused. His enthusiasm broken. He straightened his orange tie. I saw he’d scribbled something on my application:
No Life Events.
A couple of weekends into the stay home order, I’d seen two essential artists streaming. Local jazz pianist Marina Albero and local jazz singer Jacqueline Tabor. Their life events are songs.
Instead of saying piano, I will say rain.
As in: the weather forecast didn’t call for rain inside her body and pouring out her fingers. But that’s what happened.
Instead of saying song, I will say translation. As in the way the closed captioning transubstantiated Nat King Cole's lyrics:
The gradient you live in is love, you do do you land in love, and believe in return.
And that is what happened.
Josh Feit is the speechwriter for the Puget Sound’s regional transit agency. Feit was a finalist for the 2020 Vallum Award for Poetry and a finalist for the 2019 Lily Poetry Prize. In addition to appearing previously in Cathexis Northwest Press, Feit’s poetry has also been published in Spillway, CircleShow, Bee House, and High Shelf, among other journals.
"I thought it was moving when Governor Jay Inslee issued an order in the first month of the COVID-19 crisis identifying artists as essential workers. I set out to write a poem about that, which led me to think about the streaming concerts I had tuned in during the early days of the lockdown. Those performances led me to think about what was coming next."