So we marched on: An epistle for 2021

Photo of a boot
Adriana Temprano/Staff

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January

It took you six days in

To get under my skin 

And riots at the Capitol 

Reaffirming the unequal 

Different outcomes, different skin

Are your laws so paper thin?

The beginning of this year 

Made one thing most unclear:

What are we fighting for?

 

February

A month and some days passed 

Answering questions that we asked 

With our loved ones taken away 

Aching for each life to stay 

And when the single dose came through 

We asked the questions “what?” / “from who?” 

But no jab in right and left arms 

Could undo unspeakable harms 

Of the loss

With each breath and the last 

Our resilient present and past 

 

March

So we marched on  

In these worn-out boots

Still asking “how” and “why”

But behind epiphany 

Was the hope of mercy’s plea 

The American Rescue Plan Act 

Could not omit the fact 

Many were barely okay

Struggling with what to say

Yet through all the noise and sound 

We made our voices found 

 

April

Each day 

Blasé

But we went out of our way 

And as April arrived 

The ones who thrived 

Were those bathing in billions 

Not the lives lost in millions 

So as some received a dose of vaccine 

A humanitarian crisis could still be seen 

And what had never been more clear 

Is something most don’t want to hear 

This pandemic is not just a virus’s cause 

It’s the clenching teeth of inequity’s jaws 

 

May

Less mask mandating 

Feels promising, yet still debating 

Are those with immunity compromised 

Ableist privilege emphasized 

And Broadway shows remained on pause 

Artistry’s melancholy ached for applause 

As jobs were redefined 

A refugee crisis on the line 

The month came to a painful close 

Tragedies beyond words or prose

Unmarked graves, Indigenous children   

Colonization and crime

But where is the religion 

Condemning deaths from this sin?

 

June

In the heat of summer air 

Muggy — breathes despair 

Our hearts break

As shots take 

More lives 

Juneteenth arrives 

And we can’t help but wonder 

With the sizzling sun we’re under 

How to see the light of day 

When past horrors still have a say

 

July

I must confess 

This prose is dressed 

In often solemn tones 

That hide our broken bones 

Put back together with sheer willpower 

Our strength unmatched

Yet wincing to the touch 

From a bit too much 

To carry all these harms 

In tired, fragile arms 

 

Nevertheless 

We keep growing 

 

August

In person — face to face

Each take it at their pace

What a beautiful sight and sound 

Rekindling what’s been lost 

If absence makes the heart grow fonder 

Then distance made embrace last longer 

 

September

The year is 2021 

And words from the mouth of someone 

Who is not me 

And cannot see 

That my body is my own 

As they sit on pillared throne 

Controlling the womb and birth 

Determining what I’m worth 

May they never have to learn 

Of a freedom they can’t earn

 

October

Conspiracist ideation 

News overload and propagation 

As our fingertips type

And higher powers debate endlessly 

Fearmongering on the left and right 

We question once more what we fight 

The viral consequences of a deathly infection 

Or metastasized media without direction? 

 

November

So how did we do it?

Take time and make it fly 

The year a coherent blur

Have we realized 

No time can be idealized 

As the perfect one to start 

Investing in a thankful heart 

 

December

Here we are

With the question of the year:

What did you bring 

To the past 365? 

If it was only yourself 

And all you did was survive 

Know that you weren’t alone 

In the struggle to strive 

So here’s to you

To them 

To us

And the gift of being alive 

 

May the next 365 

Be the ones where you can thrive.

Adriana Temprano is the diversity, equity and inclusion committee chair. Contact her at [email protected].