When I compiled my list of poems to post throughout National Poetry Month, it didn’t occur to me how close to home “The Good Life” by Tracy K. Smith would hit. Especially during the pandemic. Because of the mishandling of COVID-19 by the president, the unemployment rate jumped 4.4% within a month, with a forecast for it to continue. Businesses are shuttering their doors, restaurants have closed their dine-in areas, reducing the need for several of their staff.
A generation of people who have always had to worry about their financial situation are now finding it hard to hold to their employment. And it’s frightening.
Maybe this will point in time we look back to in the future, when money was once that proverbial lover who skipped out on us, and marvel how we managed to survive. Until then, though, we just need to make sure we help each other out as best as we can.
When some people talk about moneyfrom Life On Mars
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.