Ode to the Coronavirus
Teach me how to love the cough, the test,
the social distance, canceled prom, empty gym,
the steady slide into impoverishment.
My ears, at this late age, make of silence
a steady hiss, so I’m never alone, except
with my failures. Failure to forget myself
completely for just a moment. Even as
my granddaughter swings her tiny foot—golpe,
golpe, golpe—I’m thinking my granddaughter, as if
the reckless joy she brings to the dance
is part mine. But nothing is mine. And that’s
the lesson you came to teach. Everything
crumbling. Everything suspended a moment
like pollen on the water at the top of a waterfall.
Or like a stray dog in traffic, lunging & turning.
Or a bat in the bedroom flapping raggedly
toward one wall & the next. If just for one
moment I could still the hiss in my ears,
the shuddering in my chest, or call it
something else—a shimmering—then would I be
like the humming stones at the waterfall’s foot
that welcome the weight of water & pollen:
golpe fuerte, golpe de suerte, golpe mortal.
Read other Letters to America in Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, published by Terrain.org and Trinity University Press.
Header photo by Fahroni, courtesy Shutterstock.