April Is the Cruelest Month
T.S. Eliot’s Premonition?
The Burial of the Dead
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain
What the hell? Really? Why is this so resonant just now, aside from the words, their meaning, and oh, everything? It’s April, now May. The dead are being buried in record numbers around the CoVid world but nowhere as badly as here in the United States; or undeadly un-buried as it were. Dozens of dead were found stacked and decomposing in rental trucks outside just one funeral parlor in New York alone.
April. It came in like a lion. It slunk out like a rhumba of rattlesnakes with no natural or even manmade barriers to stop their consumptive onslaught from continuing to grow. How many and how much will it consume before its appetite is whetted?
There is no answer.
There is little known fact around Eliot’s poem save for the fact that every first-year lit student knows at least that one line. It was believed to have been debuted in 1922 and is largely examined as a paeon to the ravages of World War I but I will cling to the first line of the first stanza as proof of the immortality of words throughout different ages and how, when need arises, they are even more impactful when reapplied to current circumstances. There is also come thought that in 1922, the world was barely out from under the Great Flu Epidemic if 1918-19. The portent for now is tantalizing.
April 2020 was indeed, very, very cruel.
After the utter shock (<sic> something we have been warned about for decades now) of a worldwide pandemic descending on us seemingly out of nowhere, governments around the world, to varying degrees of success and horror, came mostly to the conclusion that the only way to stop a virus from spreading at will around the globe was to essentially imprison each of their own populations. They did this in an amazingly haphazard manner and with a stunningly politicized lack of communication to the rest of the planet. We now live with the results and will for decades to come. The real truth of the matter is we have no clue as to what the future holds. We know little and understand less of this virulent foe and so each nation, each state, each county, lacking effective anything from our own government, is operating on a day-to-day basis gleaning whatever rays of hope or arrows of hostility are thrown out at random.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
April showers (or downpourings of death) bring May flowers.
This saying comes from a homespun proverb that, along with Eliot’s words, we all learned as children. The whole proverb reads “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers”. It has its origins in a poem from 1610 so it is deeply rooted in observational reality. But what will “flower” in our today May appears to be new and alarmingly discouraging infection and death rates. The institutional study our feared and fearful leader liked to site the most, complied by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, just doubled its expectations for the country. Doubled. It turns out their projections were based on perfect compliance by all citizens and the fact that ALL states would have stay-at-home orders. Ooops. When they began parsing the real numbers, the truth, as it appears to them at this moment in time, is staggeringly different from yesterday.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
FEMA has come to similar conclusions. If our Fearful Leader could stop firing and reassigning his most knowledgeable and longest-experienced heads of information for just a week, we might get a realistic picture of what we are facing. Instead, we have to rely on the press to look to other countries, extrapolate their data to “fit” our hugely different demographics, and hope that we can glean some winding yellow brick road into the future to follow to Oz. Hard when the sadministration’s first, read FIRST, action upon hearing about the University of Washington’s newest data projections was to…….wait for it……scrub their study completely from the CDC homepage where only hours before it held a top-posting place of honor simply because the idiocy that is the president only liked the “good” news, meaning lower death numbers. Now, like the Wizard of Oz himself, he has been spotted, once more, manipulating what’s left of his mind in order to convince himself (and by extension, his rabid supporters) that everything is fine, “There’s nothing to see here” as the Professor exclaimed to Dorothy. Would that the phantom dog that pulled back this charade of a curtain had been rabid and bitten his fat ass. And we thought the CDC was a public health agency, not an arm of the 2020 campaign that’s been in progress since November of 2016.
We don’t know what they won’t allow us to know.
What we DO know is the administration has been using our tax dollars to pay for rally after rally after rally after rally, across this country, for almost four long years. I see nothing in the press about what this is costing us as a nation of individuals. Fuel, personnel, police, logistics’ planning, all-hands-on-dick governmental time-wasting; all at our expense and only to further his goals and fuel his pathetically small ambitions. Nothing grandiloquent in this man’s words or even his nature. He is a play yard bully of the worst order, cowing his subordinated into fawning obeisance. This emperor has no clothes (and that…is an ugly thought) and those around his court are feloniously lax in their inability to ride to even the lowest standards of humanity and point it out to him. He has built a podium out of hot air and now he seeks, with the aid and abetting of Faux News (and, again, the Park’s Department and Police, etc) to place himself on REAL stone ground at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial. We appear to have no outrage left, our tanks are empty, even though they’re giving away gasoline. We are beaten-down junkyard dogs; cowering in the corner with snarling teeth bared at the next inhuman insult thrown our way.
We do know what we don’t know, and we are afraid to say it out loud.