In my twenties, when something unexpected occurred, I’d often respond by writing a poem—I even had a few published. Life intervened, and I never really pursued the craft. But the emotions that have arisen during the pandemic have caused me to revisit this medium.
There have been a million moments prompting a wide range of feelings, from joy to disdain. But no single image has lingered longer in my head than that of a front-line nurse during the peak of the crisis in New York City adorned in a garbage bag because of inadequate PPE. Below, in verse, I seek to uncover why this image has had such a lasting impact.
Haunted in a season so laden with stimuli Homebound, I gaze out windows, at TV screens Haunted by your image An American split screen in a single frame Brave beyond measure You advance into the fray of unknowness when it will end, whether you are infected with only your heart as armor Day after day, cradling those in your care Inspiring countless others US at our very best. Haunted seeing you there Unprotected as others are in Italy, Spain, China Covered only in a garbage bag rescued from a trash heap of Promises Neglect Inadequate preparation Insufficient mindfulness Pride US at our very worst. Haunted by your courage Humbled by my own failure to even hold a candle to your sacrifice Grateful.