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What It Feels Like

What It Feels like

Today I wrote a new poem in order to process my feelings about what is going on right now and I’d like to share it with you in hopes it will provide some form of catharsis. This is not a spoken word piece, so please read the poem below. If you feel compelled, please share this page with others. Thank you for reading, and I am extending my most sincere hope for the health and wellbeing of you and your loved ones at this time.

Content warning: this piece is about COVID-19 and speaks of death and grieving.

What It Feels Like

It feels like
the whole world breathing:
inhale, hold, exhale.
And on the other side,
some of us
are no longer here.

It feels like
separate and together
at once.
It feels like all of the filmmakers
and writers and musicians
are reminding us
how to hold each other,
laugh together,
tell each other stories
until we fall asleep.

It feels like chaos and calm.
Simple words we did not take time to say
are now being spoken of
by Mother Nature instead.

It feels like the morning birds’ song,
our daily reminder to cherish what remains,
what we have not yet destroyed.

It feels like fear
disguised as anger,
disguised as violence
wearing many different names:
domestic violence,
racism,
xenophobia,
anti-Blackness,
white supremacy,
transphobia.

It feels like loneliness, stillness,
like not allowing yourself to move
to the darkest places of your imagination
for fear the worst will come to life:
your loved ones alone
with only their last breath.

It feels like not wanting to leave home,
but desperate to get out of the house.
It feels like the heaviness of grief
sitting just below the surface of your skin.
It feels like extreme carelessness
and extreme carefulness
at once.

It feels like baking bread in your kitchen for the first time,
teaching your children algebra with no textbook,
writing with a ballpoint pen instead of a keyboard
to avoid the blue light burning.
It feels like eating all the cookies in the cupboard.
Reading all the books on the shelf
but not remembering
one single word.

It feels like missing New York something fierce,
but being grateful you are not home.
Inhale. Hold. Exhale.
More than one person an hour, I read.

It feels like knowing it’s not going to get better yet,
which is to say
it’s going to get worse.

Inhale, hold.
Do you trust your own breath?
Your own body?
Exhale.

It feels like looking at family photos on your phone:
the last time you held your mother’s hand.
The last time you hugged your father.
It feels like calling every day to say
how are you, what are you doing, have you been out,
I love you I love you I love you.

It feels like counting your pills
and your insulin
and your syringes
and your extra batteries for your pump,
just in case of emergency.
What is an emergency,
if not this?

It feels like kissing your dog a hundred thousand times.
It feels like turning the corner while walking her,
your chest jolting with every unexpected stranger.

It feels like being afraid of the mail,
disinfecting the groceries,
saying thank you
to every grocer
and delivery person
for bringing you
your medicine,
your glucose tablets,
your life.

Remember your grandfather
was a grocer
and a farmer’s son.
Did he know
how we needed him?

It feels like not wanting to imagine the unimaginable:
thousands of full ICU units in hospital corridors
and thousands of empty rooms in funeral homes.

It feels like feeling too much and nothing at all.
It feels like the memory
of the electric wave of gratitude
that moved through my body
the exact moment I woke up
from surgery
breathing.

It feels like the last time
I was admitted to the hospital
with uncontrollable blood sugar.
The nurses and doctors came in and out,
checking my vitals,
saying
how are you feeling,
what can I get you,
as they kept me alive.
It feels like
thank you thank you thank you.

It feels like everyone is quiet
except the children and the animals.
They know something we have forgotten,
but we are being called to remember
with every glorious, terrifying second.

It feels like a memory,
a nightmare,
a prayer.
It feels like the
whole world breathing:
inhale,
hold,
exhale.

Will you remember
to say
I love you
and thank you
on the other side
of your own breath?

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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