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After weeks of hinting, Inslee finally officially extended the Stay Home order, which will keep the vast majority of us home or maintaining movement at all times out of doors until May 31. Obviously this means we must continue to defer most things we're literally not dying to do, such as drinking margaritas on a patio near other people drinking margaritas on a patio, heckling umpires in baseball stadiums, and filing into theaters to participate in the mass catharsis necessary to keep society sane.

When I think of dreams deferred I normally think of Hughes, but this time an immortal line from "my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell" by Gwendolyn Brooks sprang to mind: "Be firm till I return from hell," she says to her jars of honey and cabinets of bread, symbols for the basic pleasures and essential dignities—her "dreams," her "works"—that white supremacy denied her and other black people.

You can find the poem in her Selected Poems, available at local bookstores.

A few notes:

• Any time we're looking at 14 lines, we're looking at a sonnet, and that's what we have here. Because it's Brooks, she's given us more than just the traditional English rhyme scheme (ababa/cdcd/efef/gg), which works if you allow for slant rhymes like "bread" and "lid," or "hurt" and "heart." She has also woven another perfect internal rhyme scheme within the poem. You can hear it better when you read it aloud—"will" and "till," then "lid" and "bid," then "again" and "in," then "dregs" and "legs." These overlapping sonic structures create a jazzy, syncopated rhythm, but to my ear they also embody the bread and honey imagery in the title, with the standard end rhyme scheme representing the bread and the fun internal rhyme scheme representing the honey.

• Though Brooks is thinking of the particular struggle of Black Americans in this poem, I cannot think of a better couplet to describe the general state of the country than, "I am very hungry. I am incomplete. / And none can tell when I may dine again." Nor can I think of a better expression of progressive frustration with our current local/national political situation than, "No man can give me any word but Wait, / The puny light."

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• The note of caution in her conclusion offers some wisdom that's hard to hear:

Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.

The constant pains of the coming days may make it impossible for us to enjoy the simple, basic dignities of life we're yearning for once/if the patios open up again. Even after some of us manage to pay down mounting rent debt and land a new job, the struggle and the direct knowledge of how precarious life is in this country may have robbed us of our sensitivity for joy, that "honey and bread old purity could love." Still, though, there's that puny light.

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