The Dictionary of the Year

by Mary Regine Dadole

The Dictionary of the Year
Under the entry for “future” we have added
strange meanings: the past returning, the continuance
of that which has happened but is not happening,
because today the calm is the storm
and the calm is deadly, which is why—
Under the entry for “present” we have added
stranger meanings: a hushed violence, an anomaly,
a day that has not ended in a year,
where this sentence of isolation, unbearable,
indefinite, is served for for a crime we did not commit.
Under the entry for “lockdown”, it used to say
temporary, but as it stretches like the wait to be born
without the wisdom of life after the first breath,
the freedom from the womb will feel
less like liberty and more like injustice;

Until “temporary” became a soul that carried with it
a power as permanent as pain but as lasting as living.
“Time” may now move like the epilogue is its first chapter, and
it teeters between endurance and restlessness and emptiness.
Time has passed, and is passing, and will be passing;
it sees, and it says this tragedy is felt briefly,
much like all the great tragedies of history;
But time continues
like the writing and rewriting of the same word.
And we continue
like the creation of aphorisms,
until we can say that the new day is finally
not yesterday.
Yet all this is hardly novelty. Have we not, since
eternity, split and sliced the innumerable lengths
of time to befores and afters, as if the during
had lasted in a moment, in a last breath, and not
between the first and the final heartbeats?
We are living in the endurance of during—perhaps
in the fatigue of being, perhaps in the days not worthy
of writing about, but we are moving, without doubt,
in infinite ways, in times that will soon be found,
chronicled infinitely in places that new wisdom resides.
So under the entry for “future” may I add: a chance,
a change; a rebirth where we know, this time, what
kind of life might await, a due date for debts that
so-called leaders have to pay; a new age;
a rediscovery of the past, and not the past itself;
a time to be brave.