There Are Poems in This Pandemic

The poem starts here.
With a cup of tea, quick, because I want to be out the door and arriving at the store just as it opens.  Won’t it be cleaner then, freshly disinfected?  Won’t there be fewer people with whom to keep a six-foot distance?  I hope.

The poem starts here.
As I approach the store entrance and slide my mask over my chin – mouth – nose.  Leaving only my eyes to see.

The poem starts here.
As I move through the store and feel the oddity of it all.  The physical avoidance of one another, which is necessary. But I keep looking to people’s faces, wanting to smile beneath my mask or say hello.  But no one looks up.  Heads are down, people move in isolation, even though this place – this grocery store – is one of the few places where we could break that isolation spell.  We could look each other in the eyes, say hello. Maybe we could smile with our eyes. But no one does.  

The poem starts here.
With a touch of sadness.  Sadness that everyone seems so afraid that they can’t even raise their eyes to one another.  Why is this so?  I could say hello.  But it is empty, the space between us, vast.  The six feet of social distance almost instantly becomes ten – twenty – thirty as they carry on their way.  The distance is necessary.  I know.  But couldn’t we say hello?

The poem starts here.
With the cashier who checks me out, first wiping down the belt, then steadying herself behind the wall of plexiglass.  She chats a bit and I’m grateful for the connection.  She tells me a funny story and I laugh.  I thank her for her story.  She was a poem.

The poem starts here.
As groceries are loaded into my car and as I apply hand sanitizer to my hands before opening the car door, before getting into my car, before driving home with the music playing.  In the car, with the music playing, I have twenty minutes that feel normal, like what I have always known.  These twenty minutes are like any other twenty minutes on some November day – some January day – some August day, driving home from the store, with the music playing.

The poem starts here.
As I arrive home and unload the groceries, not asking for help.  Not wanting anyone to touch anything unnecessarily.  I do something after the food is put away but I don’t remember what.

The poem starts here.
With the realization that it’s getting close to lunchtime.  I wash my hands.  I wash my hands so often these days.  Is there a poem there?  I pull the bread from the freezer, cheese from the fridge, butter from the crock on the counter.  There will be a poem in the form of grilled cheese sandwiches today.  As I sit with my teenage children, as we bite into our poetic layers of butter – bread – cheese, I will smile at them and they will see the smile on my face.  We will eat and talk a little.  They will return to their studies.  And then.

The poem starts here.


sending a little love your way, m




26 thoughts on “There Are Poems in This Pandemic

  1. Such a lovely and heartwarming poem – one instantly recognizable as we are all in the same space. And now, I go to make a grilled cheese sandwich too, a “poem” definitely to be enjoyed. Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. Dear Michelle, This poem touched my heart. I have felt that way in the stores too. And stopped going. Because I am one of the older more fragile people, although I never looked at myself that way before. We now have our groceries delivered. And I smile at the person setting the groceries on my porch. I smile through the screen door. A safe distance away. I want to thank you for showing up in my mailbox. Just know, I am smiling at you from Tucson, AZ. And sending you love and blessings with bits of desert spring blossoms attached. Joni

    1. I’m glad to know this touched your heart, Joni. I’m also glad to know you’re staying safe and having your groceries delivered. I’m sure the person delivering your groceries appreciates your beautiful smile through the screen door.

      And I appreciate the smile and love and blessings…and dessert spring blossoms you’ve sent my way…thank you! xo

  3. Thank you for this Michelle. I can relate to it all……same here in Jersey. But we keep on doing what we need to do…….we have to. But for right now, know that I am sending you a big smile and a great big virtual hug. I feel better. Do you?

  4. There are days I wake up so fragile, today was one of them. Your words were a calming comfort. Thank you.

    1. I’m very glad these words were a calming comfort, Cathy. that feels really good to know.
      the fragility is real, eh? it seems to come in waves.
      wishing you some ease, some comfort, some light in the coming days. xo

  5. Dear Michelle, so much insecurity right now. People are afraid, stressed and in hurry. I agree that one smile or a kind nod could make things a little less rough. Take care and stay safe, my friend!

    1. you’re right, Elizabeth…so many are afraid and stressed and hurried…and that’s to be understood.
      may we all give and receive some smiles as we’re able.
      you stay safe too!

    1. I’m glad to know this stirred something for you. there’s a lot that’s deep for many of us, a lot that’s difficult to sort and let surface.
      thank you for being here to share. xo

  6. “why can’t we say hello?” ….oh Michelle, you captured my feelings & experiences so magically & accurately. 💛 Poetry perfection. And you, my dear friend, are a poem. xoxo

    p.s. hello to you. with a wink & a smile.

  7. I loved this piece, the reality, the sadness, the urgency, the beauty and the humanity. You captured our universal experience so well. It will be hard to detail it for others years from now. But here will be your record.

    Thank you for sharing it.

  8. Lovely, Michelle … what a beautiful way to frame all that is just so different right now. Thank you!

  9. It’s a strange world now for sure. I’m sitting here this morning with my window open and for the first time ever, I can’t hear any traffic, there’s usually a soft thrum from the motorway a couple of miles away, but all I can hear are birds, so many different birds. That’s my poem today.


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