who else sits up
with a sick child?
No season evokes such a profound sense of austerity and loneliness as winter.
And no life event exacerbates one’s sense of “me-against-the-world” as much
as a sick child.
Think about it: all of the trees are bare and trembling in the raw breeze.
What was once a lush, green lawn is now a gray-white tarp of hardened snow.
The vibrant streetlife of the city has retreated to gas-powered fireplaces
and cable television reruns. Life has become an indoor sport.
When a child becomes sick, however, the sporting life is tagged
out at home plate. Parents run out of arms and legs very quickly.
Forget the marathon you ran three years ago—can you pace the
length of a two-bedroom apartment for six hours straight? I think
of this passage from one of my favorite poems, “Marriage,”
by Gregory Corso: “I am sleepless, worn, / up for nights,
head bowed against a quiet window, the past behind me, / finding myself
in the most common of situations a trembling man.”* Yes, this
is a common situation, but who is sharing it with me at this, my
When a haiku poet is devoid of inspiration, he or she needs only to look to
the sky. Whether the moon waxes or wanes, shooting stars silently arc above us,
or clouds render the heavens a featureless expanse of utter nothingness, it
is often our only consistent Muse. Winter stars are all the more poignant in
their contrast with the dark sky, a contrast that heightens with each
Joann Klontz has looked to the winter stars for both inspiration and solace.
They cannot cradle a crying child or soothe a feverish face, but they offer
an image of constancy in a world that seems to be spiraling out of control.
They provide a deep sense of connectedness which overcomes all obstacles
and all distances—our
imaginations’ assembly of the stars into constellations, the uniquely
intimate bond of mother and child,
and ultimately the connectedness of all beings who share the act of caring.
When no one else shows up for the midnight watch, the stars stand
silent vigil with those who long for daylight.