What COVID-19 has taken away… Remembering Maria

At the beginning of April, my friend Ann invited me to join a writing group which would be celebrating National Poetry Month by writing a poem every day. It met early each morning via Zoom. You could show up showered and dressed, or just roll out of bed in your pajamas. Nancy, our writing group leader, started us each morning with a meditation. She then read us a poem and gave us time to write. Not only did the writing group give me the structure that I needed when hazy days otherwise started blending into one another, but, as always, writing allowed me to process what I was feeling about my world and about myself. Below is a poem I wrote to capture the eeriness of the world I suddenly found myself in. Credit for the title, And Who Wouldn’t Want Again, to the poet Jenny George, as I was inspired by the same line from her poem, Migration.

I would also like to take this time to remember Maria Poon. Yesterday, my friend Liz lost her mother to COVID-19. Maria (Mei-Han) Poon was healthy and strong for her age, and she and her husband had been isolating themselves in their New York City apartment, adhering strictly to the stay-at-home order. Yet, somehow, Maria had contracted the virus. Did it come through the air vents, did it arrive with the mail? We will likely never know how this happened. This virus is a true despot, forcing us to live under harsh conditions, and like a despot, it is indiscriminate about the lives it takes. I’m sending love to my friend Liz and her family, including her father, Jim, who is now isolated at home, alone to mourn the death of his wife of 48 years. Maria, you embodied grace, strength, and selflessness. We will miss you, and we wish you peace.

And Who Wouldn’t Want Again

The images from around the world
The streets of New York City, empty
California’s abandoned freeways, lonely with just one car
The canals of Venice devoid of boat traffic
How lonely they appear without people, the Spanish Steps.

The images from around my neighborhood
The empty parking lot of my children’s school
The blue tape at the bank to keep me 6 feet away from the teller
The banana bread I baked for my parents
Then discarded, not wanting to infect them
With anything I might or might not be carrying.

And who wouldn’t want again
The ease with which we used to move around our world
Our world, which existed, just 14 days ago
Without this despot of a virus at the helm.

And who wouldn’t want again
To not be afraid of the touch of a stranger, or a lover
To not be afraid of unknowingly infecting someone else.

Dear Reader, I hope you are staying safe. Physical distancing does not have to mean social isolation, so I hope you are finding ways to stay connected. Stay strong, we will get through this together!

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