Pandemic Poem #15

Pandemic poem #15, originally written on 4/4/2020 after checking the morning news (where medical professionals were being interviewed about people being sick and dying alone, far from their families and friends in quarantine), seeing the number of cases and casualties in our area, and trying to find some solace in favorite reading materials, only to be brought even more deeply into my immediate feelings of sorrow and desire to imagine. A poem about literature and how story matters; how reading can help us find hope in the hopeless, and how life and art intertwine in our minds when we reach for escape.

(Reading tip: if you are reading this 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.)


The Sound of Wings and a Girl in Black

Everyone else is watching Tiger King
and I’m over here like: Okay!
Re-reading Sandman cover-to-cover today!
I settle in to that delightful task, enter the story
and immediately dissolve into tears
because Gaiman is so good,
his story so wonderful, and strange,
and beautiful, and devastating,
and three people have died in St Charles so far
from the pandemic that sent me back into it,
and I can’t help but wonder: did they hear 
the sound of wings, and was the Goth girl truly there,
so they didn’t die alone?

(Originally written 4/4/2020)


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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