Archives for posts with tag: quarantine

March/April 2020
by Attracta Fahy

My son calls from Los Angeles, six
thousand miles from home,
lockdown already begun—

“Sleeping at the hospital”

his visit home cancelled.

Next day I call him; no answer
What’s up mom?
Busy here—All ok?

For three weeks—just texts;

12th March
Can’t talk
ok? Getting bad here

Lost three patients today
Placing tubes in four

It’s worse—working non-stop
you ok?

21st Mother’s Day—Ireland
army called in

Don’t worry you’ll see me when
it’s over

Ploughing on trying to see people
as more than patients, a number, a graph
on a screen, pictures in a camera

Supplies arrived today—constant admissions
I love you mum

When this is over I’m flying you to me

Struggling not to think; the loneliness,
patients not allowed loved ones, only us.

N95 glued to my face, we won’t all make it,
friend died, two colleagues sick in NY,
preparing for the worst

Don’t worry! taking vitamin C

Will get worse before it gets better

Stay safe mum, worried you’ll get it

1st April
Shutting pumps moment after death
and on to the next—every room emergency

One body bag after another, eight this morning
others waiting for a ventilator.

First day off in eighteen; called back—surge

Tested—have antibodies, must have got it—
mild fever three weeks ago
thought it was exhaustion

Wish I could travel to help at home—
here is home too.

It’s terrible here

Robby tested positive, flying to New York
to see him, colleagues covering my shifts

Robby passed—I’m heartbroken mum


I’m working—very low
I should be strong!

I call; horror and grief in his eyes
hair almost grey,
“I’ve seen too much, mum”

PHOTO: Empty freeway during early days of quarantine in Los Angles, California (March 2020). Photo by Drew Tilk on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My son lives and works on the frontline in Los Angeles. He has had a very difficult year and at present is feeling the consequence of the grief and trauma he witnessed and experienced over the past few months. Although sad, he remains positive, determined, and brave. He is lonely, but thankfully has wonderful friends and colleagues, a great sense of humour, a mischievous character who loves to make others feel happy. He is comical, entertaining, and very loving. When I started to write, I was overwhelmed with my own sadness, so as I want this to be about him, I decided to use some of his messages and texts to me over one month during the pandemic. It gives a sense of the connection between mother and son who are 6,000 miles apart. It is also in some part a diary and record of this time.

attracta and deacon

AUTHOR’S NOTE ABOUT HER SON: My son Deacon Emmet Farrell moved from Ireland five years ago to train as an anesthesiologist in the State University of New York. His dream was to live in America. Despite dyslexia, he earned a degree with distinction in Genetics in University College Cork, afterwards earning a masters distinction in Molecular Medicine in London University UK. Following this, he began a postgraduate degree in medicine in University College Limerick. After finishing medical school, he began an internship in Beaumont Hospital Dublin before taking up his residency in New York. After qualifying with awards as an anesthesiologist,  he received a Fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Los Angeles, and moved there in August 2019. In October, he contracted and overcame bacterial meningitis. His colleagues and the staff where he worked were exceptional in taking my calls and reassuring me. I was to visit for his graduation in July 2020, and he was due to visit home in August. But neither of us could travel because of the restrictions. During the pandemic, Deacon lost colleagues, patients, friends, and his close friend Robby. Despite this, he remains dedicated and committed to his work, deciding to stay on and live in Los Angeles. We miss him terribly in Ireland. Love and prayers to all of you.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken at JFK airport in New York City during April 2019, just before my son graduated as an anesthesiologist. We met at the airport as I arrived from Ireland, and he came straight from a night shift still in his scrubs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Attracta Fahy’s background is Nursing/Social Care. She lives in County Galway, Ireland, works as a Psychotherapist, and is mother to three children. She completed her MA in Writing NUIG ‘17. She was October winner in Irish Times, New Irish Writing 2019, and is a Pushcart and Best of Web nominee. Her work has been included in a number of anthologies, shortlisted for Over The Edge New Writer, and Allingham Poetry. She was a featured reader at the January Over The Edge Open Reading in the Galway City Library. Fly on the Wall Poetry published her debut chapbook collection, Dinner in the Fields, in March 2020.

Prayer for Infrastructure
by Rick Lupert

The prayer for being able to order food online

A hundred years ago
check that – fifty years ago
check that – ten years ago
our path to filling the refrigerator
and the cabinets, and ultimately
our stomachs and the stomachs of those we love
involved driving to the supermarket and
wandering its aisles with a cart we had
no license to drive.

We knew something might be up when
they started providing wipes for the handles
God forbid we should touch something
someone else has touched.

We can still put our masks on and
as long as we stay six feet from anyone who breathes
and honor the spaced-out marks taped to the floors
we can still search those aisles, though
the images of too many empty shelves
is haunting. As far as I can tell, there’s no flour
for a million miles.

But if we choose not to assume this in-person risk
the electronic Gods have provided us with
the buttons we need to bring the essentials into our homes.
The Freshs, The Instas, The Dashes, the Grubs
All we have to do is move our mice, or rub our fingers
across our personal devices and the staples of our existence
not to mention the fully prepared offerings of our
favorite in-person haunts, will arrive at our door
contact-free on the porches of our limitation.

No one goes hungry during this pandemic.

We will drink
We will eat
We will be sated

The prayer for being able to Zoom

Whoa is the person who lives alone during the pandemic.
their only friend being familial glimpses in the mirror

Whoa are the roommates who only have each other’s air to breathe.
Whoa are the spouses who originally agreed to til death do is part
but assumed there’d be breaks, right?

Whoa are the people who crave physical human touch
the huggers, the hand holders and shakers, the fist bumpers.
the sound of another breath missing from our track.

In another generation we’d have almost forgotten
the movement of lips, the blinks of eyes, the tenor of voices.

But today our electronic infrastructure allows us
to be in the same room as everyone we’ve ever known.

Our parents in whatever state they’re in.
Our regular crowds for Passover seders.
You want concerts? There’s more live music
broadcasting to your screens than anything ever-paloozad.

We are safer electronically together.
We are growing our beards and not just because of the Omer.
We are seeing the true colors of our hairs
on the head of everyone we’ve ever loved or wanted to love.
We are Zoom-zooming and adding the word live to
our entire online ennui.

We hardly had to learn how to do this.
It was already there when they turned off the outside.
We’ve been preparing for this the whole time.

So until we can go skin on skin
breath on breath again.

Thank you to the prophets of Silicon Valley
for making it so we can digitally commingle.
As it says in the very first story –
It is not good for us to be alone.

and thanks to them
we are not.

The prayer for front line workers

We used to be specific about who we
applied the word hero to.
Our doctors, and firefighting professionals
Our activists, and soldiers
Our law enforcement professionals
and the occasional politician who stuck to their morals.

We sometimes confabulate the words hero and fame
We’re in awe of our rock stars and movie stars
Certain authors get the royal treatment
and in some communities just being the person who tells you the weather
will get you a better seat at dinner.

We never considered the grocery store shelf stocker
the checkout person, the mail carrier
the one who brings us our boxes, often in two days or less.
How about the one who is willing to go into
the store for us, or the restaurant
to gather the things we need, or even just want.

Someone’s bringing me a new TV today because
I wouldn’t dare leave the house.

These people doing these tasks we used to think mundane
are literally, and I’m, literally not one to use the word literally
risking their lives so ours can continue to thrive.
I’d say they are our new heroes
but I think they’ve been our silent heroes this whole time.
Anyone who does anything to keep the world moving
so we are given the confidence to know that the
sun will keep shining on the next new day
is essential.

Blessed are people and everything they do.
Our world goes around on the back of their Torah.

SOURCE: The third part of this poem (The prayer for front line workers) originally appeared on the Union for Reform Judaism’s blog.

IMAGE: I and the Village by Marc Chagall (1911).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The thing that really struck me when the quarantine started…when we were being bombarded with images of empty shelves, and people were hoarding toilet paper like we had just lost the recipe to make it, was how I could immediately take advantage of the existing electronic infrastructure to have whatever I need brought to my house, keeping me safe and provided for. This isn’t something that needed to be put together, but which was already here. I can’t imagine how they did this during the last pandemic. Amidst this terrible situation, we are so lucky.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway  and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks, was released in March 2016. He’s authored 25 collections of poetry, including The Toyko-Van Nuys Express (Ain’t Got No Press, August 2020), Hunka Hunka Howdy, Beautiful Mistakes, and God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone Wild,  A Poet’s Siddur, A Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for Jewish Journal. He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Follow him on Facebook.

Author Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher


Thank you, Thanks you all.
by Joan Leotta

Driving North on I-95 in March During the Pandemic—Thank you to Everyone Along the Way, Thank you to the Workers Who Made Her Move Possible in the time of Covid.

Dogwood, redbud, already bloomed where we live in North Carolina,
now pop out from between leaf buds of their deciduous brethren in the more oaken than pine forests of Virginia as we glide north on an almost empty asphalt ribbon. Usually packed with cars and trucks, now only the occasional vehicle passes, and we hope that gas stations and state visitor centers are open for the necessities, gasoline, and rest stops. Lunch is packed this time to eat in the car as we drive up to help our daughter transition from her condo to a newly built townhouse.


Arriving, we bear witness with her the empty streets in Washington, closed stores, restricted hours, and help her balance on the emotional tightrope of possible closure and the need to leave her old house to transfer her goods, to make a new place her home. Will cable be able to connect so she can work from home? Will the movers be considered “essential?”

Amid all that uncertainty, we, her parents, bring the spring of certainty that whatever else has changed, whatever strictures, sadnesses that Covid carries, she has our love and will survive any storm and that she will surely bloom.

IMG_2206 copy

Yes, the workers were allowed to finish the construction, bankers met, movers came on time, garage door was installed, cable was connected, and we were able celebrate with dinner in her new home. We stood at the window, looked out, and raised a glass to thank them all, although we could not invite them in.

Graphic by BilltheCat, used by permission. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: When she is not playing with words on page or stage, Joan Leotta loves nothing more than sitting at table or walking the beach, laughing and talking with family. She spins poems, articles, essays, short stories, and performance pieces most often around her core interests—food, family, nature, travel, and strong women. Her poetry books include  Languid Lusciousness with Lemon (Finishing Line Press), Nature’s Gifts from Stanzaic Stylings (free online), and a mini-book from origami poems (free, but also printable). Another short collection will be released by Origami in 2020. Visit her at and on Facebook.

PHOTO: The author (left) with daughter Jennie and husband Joe.

UPS by Joselyn Miller
Ode to My UPS Guy
by Rick Lupert

He rings the doorbell with purpose.
Not like the food delivery people who
you hardly get a ding out of.

His ding is fast but purposeful—
and the dong . . . well when that thing
comes along, it’s like

the Roman Empire is back.
He won’t take any gifts. I’ve offered
water, soda, candy, fruit even.

But this isn’t Halloween for him.
New iPhone season is coming and
he needs to stay in shape.

We used to talk all the time
for about eight seconds a shot.
He’d say things like

sending packages to yourself again?
and I’ve got your cat litter for you.
He’d respond to the funniest thing

I could think to tell him without missing
a beat. But since the plague descended
by the time I open the door

his knees, bursting out of
the brown shorts of his people
are already back in the van.

This is how it will be until
they find something to inject into us
that will make it all go away.

Until then he brings us
everything we can imagine
like a masked savior.

A package of coffee came today
which will, literally, keep me alive.
And yesterday he brought me

a book of poetry from Japan.
Not the one I wrote, but one
packaged by the hands of

a woman in a kimono
flown across the Pacific and
entrusted to my guy.

He laid it on the porch and rang the bell.
I set it aside for three days to avoid
any unwelcome visitors.

What more could I need?
Whatever it may be, I know
he’ll risk his life to bring it to me.

United in his service—
This is but a parcel
of my gratitude.

PAINTING: Essential Worker — Parcel Delivery Driver by Joselyn Miller, available for sale at Artist’s statement:  “I felt drawn to paint a series of portraits to honor those out there doing what needs to be done during quarantine. One hundred percent of my proceeds will be donated to aid those most adversely impacted by the COVID pandemic. I used a variety of bright colors to render the portrait, bringing an uplifting vibe to the serious nature of the subject matter.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love my UPS guy. (Platonically.) He’s doing work which I’ve always appreciated, but now regard as essential. He and all of our prime movers are doing work which is literally keeping as safe behind our masks and closed doors.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway  and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks, was released in March 2016. He’s authored 25 collections of poetry, including The Toyko-Van Nuys Express (Ain’t Got No Press, August 2020), Hunka Hunka Howdy, Beautiful Mistakes, and God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone Wild,  A Poet’s Siddur, A Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for Jewish Journal. He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Follow him on Facebook.  

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher


Our Eyes Say, Thank You
by Cristina M. R. Norcross

We speak with our eyes now.
Cloth covers the curve of a smile.
I sit in my car and hear the sound of
a rattling cart’s wheels on pavement.
A muffled thank you seems too small.

Food is essential.
The heroes who bring us food are essential.
Masked crusaders bring eggs, milk, bread, and hope—
the reassurance of a full fridge.
My order pick-up and mask wearing
takes only minutes,
but this kind worker will be here for hours.
A muffled thank you seems too small.

Words feel insufficient.
“Thank you for being on the front lines,” I say.
After finding a regular schedule, I notice
that the same, patient man
brings the cart out on Wednesdays.
We smile with eyes that know nothing
except what today holds.
He shares that he just moved here from California.
Just as I am about to apologize for COVID,
I realize that it is everywhere,
not just my state.
My Wednesday helper asks me about
the craft beer I ordered for my husband
and mentions the mystery of how cars show up all at once.
There is more socializing in this short exchange
than there used to be at the register.
The need for human connection is greater now.
A muffled thank you seems too small.

There is nowhere to go but home.
Thankfulness wells up within.
In that final look,
I let my eyes speak for me.

Photo by Vera Davidova on Unsplash


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For many weeks, at the beginning of quarantine, I chose to order groceries online and simply do a curbside pick-up from our local grocery store.  There were too many unknowns, and this felt like the safest option.  I remember feeling overwhelmed with thankfulness for those who were doing this job.  I still feel the same thankfulness wearing my mask at the check-out.  Someone is willing to risk being inside a building to work, so that others can get the groceries they need for their families.  These masked heroes have families, too.  How will our muffled mask thank-yous ever be enough?  I don’t have a photo of myself with the Wednesday grocery clerk, but I did write a heartfelt letter to the grocery store thanking them for providing the curbside service and thanking the whole staff for their courage.  Perhaps, they put the card up in the break room for people to read.  I hope against hope that my written words said as much as my eyes did.

Photo by Sarah Pflug, used by permission. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cristina M. R. Norcross is the author of eight poetry collections and the founding editor of Blue Heron Review (2013-2020).  Her latest book is Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019). Other collections include Amnesia and Awakenings (Local Gems Press, 2016) and Still Life Stories (Kelsay Books, 2016). Her work appears in numerous print anthologies and journals.  She has helped organize community art and poetry projects, has led workshops, and has also hosted many open mic poetry readings. She is the co-founder of Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day (celebrated annually on February 20th).  Visit her at and on Twitter and Instagram.


A Daring Trip to the Grocery Store
by Wilderness Sarchild

The supermarket clerk,
behind his white paper mask,
under his long white hair,
with an acrylic shield between
him and all virus spreaders,
yelled at me
for not standing
at the very beginning
of the conveyor belt
to unload my groceries.
I told him I was sorry
the first time and then,
by accident, I did it again.

He asked the tourists from New York
if they had quarantined for fourteen days.
They said they would begin when
they arrived at their vacation rental.
His eyes flashed, his sarcasm
a joke that wasn’t funny,
Then you’re not allowed
to breathe in this store.

PHOTO: Sign at supermarket in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by the particular trip to the grocery store that I describe in the narrative.  When I had to be confronted twice because of my own lack of caution for the clerk’s well-being, and then right after, when I witnessed another group’S cluelessness about what they might be bringing into the store from their travels, I felt ashamed because of the risks these essential workers are exposed to every single day as a result of some people’s (myself included) ignorance.


 Wilderness Sarchild is an award-winning poet and playwright. She is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Old Women Talking, published by Passager Books, and the co-author of Wrinkles, the Musical, a play about women and aging that has been produced on Cape Cod for the past three years.  She has won awards for her poetry and playwriting from Veterans for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Chicago’s Side Project Theatre Company, and the Joe Gouveia WOMR National Poetry competition, judged by Marge Piercy. She was selected as Poet of the Week on Poetry Superhighway. Wilderness is also an expressive arts psychotherapist and grandmother of six.  She is a social justice activist and is a consultant/teacher of skills in conflict resolution, consensus decision making, mediation, meeting facilitation, and empowered aging. Wilderness lives in a cottage in the woods in Brewster (Cape Cod), Massachusetts, with her husband, poet Chuck Madansky. They are surrounded by wild neighbors that include turkeys, coyote, fox, deer, squirrels, giant snapping turtles, and birds. Visit her at  and


Safer at Home:
Thank You, Juan and Patrick
by Janet Banks

The scent of disinfectant wafting in the hallways and elevator, a fragrance better than anything Chanel might manufacture, signals that Juan is on the job. As the condo building’s custodian, Juan arrives early every morning, not missing a single day in the last six months, to hand-clean and mop all surfaces, including doorknobs and railings, leaving the common areas in the building spotless. The sound of his vacuum in the hallway is the perfect accompaniment to calm fear of stepping out the door to the world beyond my apartment.

Patrick, our concierge, was furloughed for ten weeks — what a loss. His office remained shuttered during those long weeks. Deliveries were left on the building steps or in the vestibule in a jumble. The lobby was eerily quiet. The dogs living in the building must have been bewildered. Where were their treats from the friendly man downstairs? Patrick would occasionally swing by the building to see how his colleague Juan was holding up. It was a relief to see him visit, to know that he was well, that he hadn’t forgotten us. We’re so happy he is back on the job, welcoming us home with a wave and smiling eyes, masked, of course, as we are—the lobby again, a bright friendly space.

When the Covid-19 virus tore into Boston, the death toll shot through the ceiling at an alarming rate. The city was successful in flattening the curve and is now in Phase 3 of opening up. My husband and I, both 76 years-old, have pre-existing conditions. We aren’t seeing friends and family or eating in restaurants. We’re continuing our lives in Phase 1 mode, waiting for a vaccine and effective treatment for the virus. The two-man team, Juan and Patrick, continue to be indispensable to my sense of well-being.

PHOTO: Patrick Mahoney and Juan Valenzuela at the author’s building in Boston, Massachusetts. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband, Arthur Banks, and I moved into our condo 24 years ago. We’ve had the privilege of knowing Juan Valenzuela for 14 years and Patrick Mahoney for 11 years. They both told me that their favorite things about working at our building is the one-on-one work with the people who live here, and the chance to work with each other. “We’re a team,” Patrick said. ¶ The building has an interesting history. It’s located in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood was built in 1895, originally as an apartment hotel, a six-story steel and terra cotta structure, with a front of Indiana limestone and granite foundations. During the 1930s, under new ownership, it was renovated and renamed as “the only hotel in the United States strictly French in its operation.” In the early 1950s, the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston acquired the building and it was transformed into a home for the elderly. Sold during the late 1960s, the site continued to operate as a nursing home for another 10 years. In the early 1980s, the property was sold and converted into 24 condominium units. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Janet Banks is a writer who is exploring memories from her youth as well as the joys and challenges of aging in real time. Her personal essays have been published by The Rumpus, Entropy Magazine, WBUR’s Cognoscenti, Silver Birch Press, and Persimmon Tree among other on-line sites. Shortly after retiring from a corporate career, she was published in the Harvard Business Review and contributed commentary regarding career development to numerous publications.

smitha photo
The Invisible Men*
by Smitha Vishwanath

I don’t know them by name
Or by face
I know them by what they wear
A half-sleeve shirt untucked and trousers
A safari suit like the one worn by people in the government
But this one’s brown like dust or a blue- grey
So, you only see
the emptied bins and the clean gardens
Not them

You can see them crouching sometimes
In the lift scrubbing the walls
Until it shines like a mirror
And reflects your face
Not theirs—
as their heads are bent
and they carry on
Focused like the ants

Even if you do not see them
You know they are there
Like the air you breathe
somewhere, everywhere
Like you know you’re alive
You’ll see the building spic, the tiles shiny
And the grounds cleared of fallen leaves
and the path cleared of wrappers or anything that does not belong

I pass them by
Today, as I always have
And they keep their eyes lowered
As they always have
But today; I want to give them a smile
Like I never have before
For staying inconspicuous like Santa’s helpers
And not halting even when the world was called to halt.

*Men to be read as to include women

Copyright @ SmithaV

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photograph shows some of the prime movers in our apartment block who have stayed in the premises during the past five months due to Covid. They have ensured that everything has been maintained as before. This picture captures them celebrating Indian Independence Day on August 15, 2020.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Smitha Vishwanath is a banker-turned-writer. A management professional, she embarked on the writing journey in 2016 with her blog,, while still heading the regional cards operations of a bank. After working for almost two decades in senior roles in the banking industry in the Middle East, she quit and moved to India in July 2018 when her husband was transferred on an assignment. In July 2018, she co-authored a book of poetry, Roads: A Journey with Verses. Her poetry has been published by Rebelle Society, Spill Words Press, and other publications. Other than writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and painting. Visit her blog at

licensed anamaria mejia
Beautiful Hair
by Marilyn Humbert

it’s a small salon
vying for customers
with Royals and Stylz
perms and foils of the mall

my favourite cutter
waves in recognition
she sports a new ’do
buzzed cut on the right
dyed blue on the left

I slip into a vacant chair
muffle-masked chatter
passes the time
the gentle tug of fingers
snipping and combing

in the mirror I watch
her eyes on the door
days are slower she tells me
scarcely enough work
to cover wages and rent

PHOTO: Quarantine haircut by Anamaria Mejia, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poem, “Beautiful Hair,” prompted by a visit to my favorite hairdresser—usually a busy place buzzing with people and hairdressers.  This has changed since Covid, and now there is a real threat that there may not be enough customers for this business to survive.

Photo Marilyn Humbert copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marilyn Humbert lives in the Northern suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Her free-verse poems have been awarded prizes in competitions, published in Other Terrain Journal, Backstory, FemAsia Magazine, and The Blue Nib most recently.  Her tanka and haiku appear in international and Australian journals, anthologies, and online.

licensed katherine bernard Yip Choy
happy birfday to you
by dana st. mary

i washed and washed and washed
my hands because that’s what we do
now and sang a twenty second song
also, in my head of course, i sang
happy birfday to you because that’s
the way i have been saying it in my
head for like twenty years and i
washed and washed and sang and sang
and thought about yesterday after work
because i am lucky enough to still
have a job after work yesterday with my
son at the park even though we weren’t
supposed to go out anymore we
did to walk the dog and he asked me
how long it would be before he could
touch the swing set again or the slide
as he is just eight and monkey bars are
heaven to him and the look on his face

well, i had no answer and don’t make a
habit of lying to him so i just threw the
ball for elvis and hugged my boy and
listened to the ever rarer plane go by

in a very empty sky.

PHOTO: Playground closed due to Covid-19 quarantine by Katherine Bernard Yip Choy, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poems are written from the perspective of a hotel worker. I am the Chief Engineer at the PDX Embassy Suites and have worked through this entire affair with frontline customer service contact. I have used all the right precautions, I guess, because our family has been safe thus far, and my youngest daughter of six is immunocompromised, having Down Syndrome. I am not a hero by anybody’s yardstick. I just get up every day to go to work and provide for my family. Customer service is a lifestyle choice, definitely. We have had the honor of hosting first responders at the hotel. God bless them all.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: dana st. mary is a lifelong devourer of books and tall tales told by strangers, in odd places. he spent over 15 years as an alaskan deckhand on halibut, black cod, and crab boats. he spent twenty plus years as a traveler and inveterate storyteller. north america is his particular bailiwick.  he now sleeps in a bed, under a roof, with his wife (colleen) and two exceptionally handsome children (patrick and irene). Visit him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and youtube