Virtual Reality. A poem by Linda McCauley Freeman

They are dropping like flies. How cliched.
And how is that even true? Certain seasons
I am besieged by flies. They buzz caught
between screen and window, dive-bomb
my head and only rarely do I find them
feet up on the floor.

And yet, that is what comes to mind when
I am told yet another friend has passed away.
That’s three in as many weeks. Cancer, cancer
and more cancer. An epidemic within the
pandemic we are living. Sheltered-in-place,
our customary grieving shattered, we turn
to emails and Facebook posts. This is not
what it should feel like to have someone die.
A widow alone with her grief is usually
only figuratively alone. How can a virtual hug
suffice against physical loss? Every day
COVID death tolls scroll across our screens,
until we build immunity against the staggering
numbers. My healthcare provider says they are
only seeing well patients, the sick not allowed in.
A friend has not stopped coughing for four weeks.
She lives alone. We follow her on Facebook, cheer her on,
offer to drop soup and cough meds at her door.
Another fly dive-bombs my head.


Linda McCauley Freeman has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies, including a Chinese translation of her work for an international journal. She recently won Grand Prize in Storiarts poetry contest honoring Maya Angelou, and her work was selected by the Arts Mid Hudson for inclusion in their Artists Respond to Poetry 2018 show and Poets Respond to Art 2020 show. She was a three-time winner in the Talespinners Short Story contest judged by Michael Korda. She has an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College and is the former poet-in-residence of the Putnam Arts Council. She and her husband are professional swing dance instructors in the Hudson Valley, NY (

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