How to deal with grief — and persevere — mid-pandemic

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Jessica DuLong

Published November 30, 2020

Maggie Smith‘s poem “Good Bones” made the rounds again on social media amid the post-election vote-tallying limbo that fanned the fires of Americans’ already heightened anxiety. This came as no surprise to Smith, whose remarkable ability to recognize darkness while tenaciously holding onto hope is embodied in the 17 lines of free verse. She has taken to calling the poem “a disaster barometer” because it resurfaces whenever “people need to process, or need consolation or reassurance.

“Written in the voice of a mother struggling to explain the world’s contradictions to her young children, “Good Bones” first went viral after the contentious 2016 election and was dubbed “the official poem of 2016” by Public Radio International at a time when many news outlets genuinely wondered whether that year had earned the title “Worst Year Ever.”

It turns out 2016 had nothing on 2020.