Life in the Time of Pandemic

People are dying

as I walk in the sunshine.

I follow the statistics every day.

Supermarket employees in masks

load groceries into my car.

*

At seventy, with chronic illnesses,

I am vulnerable.

My best contribution

to the general welfare

is to stay at home.

*

I watch the news

and witness the chaos:

doctors and nurses working

without adequate protection,

without enough equipment…

working overtime.

*

Patients in hallways,

bodies in refrigerator trucks.

Waves of infection

sweeping through nursing homes.

*

Information and misinformation

flooding the TV and the internet.

politicians on the news

pointing fingers, making promises.

Scientists scrambling to create

treatments and vaccines.

Doctors contradicting each other.

This or that vitamin or supplement

promising immunity.

*

Heroes sewing masks,

handing out hand sanitizer,

making donations,

delivering medicines and meals,

driving big rigs night and day.

Survivors donating plasma

with antibodies to treat the sick.

*

Scalawags and scammers

trying to make a profit

from human misery and fear.

Protesters marching with angry signs,

ignoring social distancing.

They don’t want to stay home any longer

or wear a mask.

Some of them may be

asymptomatic, but contagious.

*

Schools closed, students at home

studying on the internet.

Doctors treating patients remotely.

Delivery trucks everywhere,

leaving lifelines on doorsteps.

*

Families riding bikes or walking

around the neighborhood

for exercise and sunshine

and waving at their neighbors.

Musicians on the street corner

wearing face masks,

giving concerts to passersby.

*

Farmers plowing under crops

they can’t harvest or ship,

milk dumped, chickens euthanized.

No meat, no eggs, no toilet paper

on grocery store shelves…

supply chains broken down.

*

Businesses closed,

some permanently,

worst unemployment since

the Great Depression,

stock markets erratic,

Stimulus funds issued

to fend off economic collapse.

*

Stores and venues reopening

as cases continue to increase.

Some say it’s too soon;

cases will spike again,

more people will die.

*

Pandora, in the ancient myth, ignored

a warning and opened a box,

releasing diseases and destruction

into the world.

She closed the box…too late!

*

If Pandora hadn’t opened the box again

when she heard a tiny voice inside,

Hope would never have emerged,

and right now, Hope is what we need…