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  • Writer's picturestephanieraffelock

Pandemic Poetry

Who did we used to be before “normal” was a place to which we longed to return?

If we find that place again, will we be restored to our former selves?

My heart aches for that, breaks for that,

but I don’t see that there is a road map or even a possibility.

Everything and everyone has changed.

This pandemic buries us daily and yet we pretend.

Walking around smug unvaxxed and unmasked,

a statement of political tribes.

No grace exists for us within the division.

It’s only in how we care for each other that matters, but even that feels so distant.

I wonder how much we’ve forgotten about grace and the reach of trying to bridge the gap.

Can love really conquer all?

Then, why does it feel so slow?

I dream about lunches in cafes, though my hunger is not for food.

I imagine sidewalk dining, filled with sunshine and friends, but I get on a Zoom call instead. Talking through the screen, talking through the miles between us,

sharing hopes and regrets, building a community without the flesh –

we are somewhere in the ethers of staying connected and also unknown.

The Zoom call is a gathering of women,

of writers, who stir the bubbling caldron of unexpressed stories.

We carry the grief as we encourage and wail,

as we try to help each other get through one more day,

find a way, give sway

to the voice within us.

Only in creating right now, do I feel the arms of God around me. The rest is lost.

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

I light a candle on my desk.

The flicker of the flame reminds me of angel wings

and I tell myself that the angels are here.

I write prayers in a journal and wait for answers.

I assuage my weariness with cups a black tea and sweet honey.

Who was I before the scourge of fear and exhaustion

that wrapped all of us in the package of a virus?

Dear God, please help us is the prayer that rests on my lips.

I cannot prove that there is something that hears us

when we ask for that small bit of hope.

Still I can’t help but believe.

It’s all a grappling with the Something Greater

that offers food and nourishment beyond the menus

of the sidewalk cafes and friends that I miss.

Salvation is in how we listen to the universe,

and listen to our hearts.

The gentle compassion toward what we've lost and what is to come,

rests in a treatise on love written long ago: this too shall pass.

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