Pandemic Poem #11

I was wholly unprepared to check the mail and find a college admissions brochure for my sixteen-year old daughter on Day 11. I imagine in the best of times it’s a bit jarring–I mean, she’s in tenth grade, you know it’s coming, but the arrival of college brochures mailed to your home and addressed to her is your first truly concrete clue that she’s really about to grow up and leave home. When that first sign of imminent departure from the nest comes into your parents’ hands fresh from the mailbox in the middle of a global pandemic, with its attendant anxieties, worries, uncertainties, and concerns–perspective shifts instantly. Or at least, mine did. To use a theater metaphor, still keenly aware of the human tragedy unfolding in plain view on the main stage, I also was treated to a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what’s coming  in the next act. It was a startling, unsettling, and bittersweet moment.

(Reading tip: if you are reading these on your phone screen, turning the screen sideways will result in a correct placement of each line; otherwise, they are broken up in unusual and not especially poetic fashion.)


An Admission

In the midst of a global pandemic
While everyone is Zooming and Facetiming
And watching the numbers and worrying
And trying not worry
The mailman slipped a little piece of mail
Into our mailbox–an admissions brochure
For my teen daughter, from a college, the first.

Let me then admit, if I am being honest,
That rocked my world more than the news,
Changed my world view faster than the maps.


(Originally written 3/30/2020)


I invite those who are also writing creatively in response to the pandemic to share their words in the comments below. I am sharing the “poem-a-day” on Instagram and Twitter, as well; follow me @mridleyelmes !



About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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