Pandemic Poems - APRIL 2020
Bio Note: I am a teacher-librarian and writer, mainly of poetry, but sometimes essays or reviews or articles about librarianship. My parents both immigrated from Hungary, though they met in New Jersey. Their spirit of seeking landed me in Los Angeles, which is the place I have lived the longest now. I am grateful to be a part of the Antioch MFA community and to have a chapbook, Love Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with Dancing Girl Press.
To die, to risk life to pack boxes because I want to cover my grays? I conduct inventory: Chad and Ed are sick, Priya is better, Doug is improved, Jon is still healthy. A friend’s father died, as did a stranger’s. Widows forced to grieve alone. There is no hard evidence, none tested. Normally effortless, I must remember to exhale and inhale, each cycle savoring the air caressing my alveoli like my mother’s hand through my hair.
I always wanted to go to Italy I hear my mother say, in my memory, in my grief, once again, like her I cry in church. Only this Easter church is here in my living room. The same room where I received the call of her dying, where I last told her I loved her, and then, waiting for the airport shuttle, received the call that she could not wait. Bocelli sings to us this Easter from the empty Duomo. She always cried when we sang Amazing Grace, confessing how wretched and lost we are. Alone, we think, Bocelli sings was blind but now I see. But there is a camera and an audio engineer, the organist inside, and people sheltering at home, and all of us, watching. As I am. Alone in my home fearing the one breath that could bring in this pneumonia. It was a rare pneumonia that tethered my mother to oxygen. She could not go out for long. Before the tank ticked to empty we barely make it through lunch. Even in her home, she trailed plastic tubes as she shuffled from kitchen to couch, couch to toilet, toilet to bed. At night, I’d change the bandage on her foot where oxygen was too scarce to heal a wound. How she would have loved this Easter watching the sweeping vistas of the quiescent wonders of Milan, London, Paris, and New York, where we rode the ferry to Ellis Island, ate pizzas, and hailed yellow cabs to bring us home.
©2020 Lisa Eve Cheby
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell her or him. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL