licensed iago lopez
Back from the Front
by Anita Haas

“They kept coming. Delivery
vans, mail trucks even.”

Every 8 p.m. we emerged, blinking,
from our cozy, book-lined
bunker, to applaud you
from our rooftop.

“It was a trade center turned field hospital.”

And every night we stared
at the coiffed, heeled announcer, pointing
at rising columns on charts
labeled “Infections” and “Deaths.”

“And they lay them on the sidewalks, some
already dead. The families forbidden to say goodbye.”

But the media already told us;
No masks for you, garbage bag
capes. Shortage of
beds, ambulances, ventilators;
patient-lined corridors, ice rink morgue.

“The nearest sink was 800 metres
away. We couldn’t wash them. The smell …”

But TV sucks reality out of things. Tricks
you into believing it’s all just a movie.

“Many colleagues with families didn’t go home
at night, afraid of infecting them.”

But you were real. Telling me,
blinking down at your coffee, voice
wavering. After it was all over.
For now, at least.

“But I did. After my shift, I’d collapse
on the couch, hug my dog, and sob.”

PHOTO: Healthcare workers in Spain dealing with the coronavirus crisis applaud in return as they are cheered outside their hospital on March 26, 2020. Photo by Iago Lopez, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Lockdown here in Spain was especially severe during the months of March, April, and May. We were restricted to our homes and only permitted to leave, unaccompanied, for work, food, or medicine, and within a one kilometer radius. At 8 p.m. the streets rang out with applause from balconies. Since we don’t have a balcony, we rediscovered our building’s rooftop, where we could stretch our legs, applaud the healthcare workers, and get some vitamin D.  When we could finally leave and see people, I met up with a nurse friend of mine. Her story inspired this poem.

Haas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Haas is a differently abled, award-winning Canadian writer and teacher based in Madrid, Spain. She has published books on film, two novelettes, a short story collection, and articles, poems, and fiction in both English and Spanish. Her poetry has been featured in Quantum Leap, River Poets Journal, Poetry Quarterly, Vox Poetica, Verse Virtual, Wink, Songs of Eretz, Parody Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and Founder’s Favourites. She spends her free time watching films and enjoying tapas and flamenco with her writer husband and two cats.

PHOTO: The author on her rooftop during lockdown.