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Perspective: My sliver of blue sky

Sadie Marks, DeKalb High School

Leer en español.

"A sliver of blue has more /intensity than the entire sky..."

I have been thinking about these opening lines of the poem "Window" by the Nicaraguan poet, Alfonso Cortés, as I contemplate the possibility of living long-term in partial lockdown.

Unfortunately, Cortés suffered mental illness, possibly schizophrenia, throughout his adult life, forcing his family to lock him up in a room with bars on the window. He seemed to have periods of lucidity when he could live normally, but during violent rages he was a danger to himself and others. The family opted to lock him in a room and chain him to the wall until the crisis passed.

"Window" was inspired by these moments of confinement when he could only glimpse a tiny corner of sky between the bars on his window. In a similar fashion, we lived only a part of our lives during the pandemic, leaving us with our own sliver of blue sky.

Due to this limited horizon, Cortés's words have taken on a new meaning for me. I begin to focus on the insignificant details of life: how the sunlight filters through autumn leaves, that I no longer look at clouds with the same frequency as when I was little, in the spirals of steam from a hot bowl of soup. We are surrounded by slivers of blue sky, but we needed a lockdown to notice.

I'm Frances Jaeger, and that is my Perspective.

Frances Jaeger is an associate professor of Spanish at Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include Latin American contemporary poetry as well as Caribbean and Central American literature.
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