Pandemic Poem #24

The poem I wrote on April 13 came in response to our family’s jubilation when my husband returned home from shopping for the first time in 2 weeks with a package of toilet paper–the shelves had been empty, everywhere, for weeks. A meditation on small things and big events and how both can help us grow as humans.

(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.)


Crying in the Restocked Cleaning Supplies Aisle

Awareness gurus tell us to practice gratitude,
to give thanks for all our gifts and blessings
and write five things daily in our gratitude journal.

I’m not sure they expected us to weep with joy over
toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant–
little things so inconsequential, until they’re not.

If we walk away with anything positive from this
pandemic, let it be this: As surely as  2 + 2 = 4,
let’s learn, “Take nothing for granted” truly means

Take nothing for granted. No luck fully staves off lack.
A bit of wisdom our Depression-era ancestors knew
better and far more truly than any wellness guru.


(Originally written 4/13/2020)


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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