NOTES ON A PANDEMIC by Mariana Mcdonald

1. Days

Days are topsy-turvy,
nights perpetual.
Sleep’s a fugitive.

The mantra of
not if but when
clutches at our throats,

the fear of catching,
falling, losing to it
in our own blighted bodies

only surpassed
by the fear
it will take those

we long to hold close,
to breathe their presence
like a just-bloomed flower.

2. How?

How do we grieve
when the grief
is so massive?

How do we grieve
when the grief
is so great?

How do we grieve
when the human heart

by a cord torn and trembling
from the weight
of the lies?

3. Recycle

Let there be recycling
of kindness, let it be
used, re-used,

again and again,
even if it must be
laundered, covered,

held apart
for fifteen hours
sitting on a doorstep,

let it be endlessly
passed from one to another
like the humble dollar bill,

let it be
the currency
of our time.

4. Sleep

Sleep, please take me
on your starry ride
from wide-eyed nights

of wondering
who will be
allowed to live

and who the next to die.
Let the herds of sheep
that leap beyond

mind’s meadow
land in that dream
where we touch again

and march the streets
in that awakening

we welcome
with infectious laughter,
undistanced joy.

Mariana Mcdonald is a poet, writer, public health scientist, and activist. Her work has appeared widely, including poetry in Crab Orchard Review, Lunch Ticket, and The New Verse News; fiction in So to Speak and Cobalt; creative nonfiction in Longridge Review and HerStry; and journalism in In Motion. She co-authored with Margaret Randall the recently released Dominga Rescues the Flag/Dominga Rescata la Bandera, the story of black Puerto Rican freedom fighter Dominga de la Cruz. She edited former political prisoner Oscar López Rivera’s award-winning bilingual memoir Cartas a Karina. Mcdonald is active in social justice movements and the writing community. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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