A gratitude poem: Praise in a Viral Time

Lana Hechtman Ayers

 

Praise in a Viral Time

            for Jane & everyone

 

Praise to the grocery store worker

who greeted me cheerfully

on the phone when I let her know

I’d arrived to pick up

the order I’d placed online.

Praise to her eyes blue as today’s sky

that smiled apologetically

when she said she couldn’t fill

half my order, there being

simply not much in stock.

I told her she was a hero for being here

in a time of virus to help feed us,

and she said, “We’ll all get through

this crazy time together.”

 

Praise to the pharmacy clerk,

arriving at the drive-thru window

her hands gloved, smile

bright as her cherry-red hair.

I told her she was a hero for helping

us be as healthy as possible

with so many spreading illness.

She said, “I have lung issues

and both my children are

immunocompromised.

Let’s all be careful.”

 

Praise to all those who go to work

every day, side by side with a death

virus at work, invisible as breath.

 

Praise to the delivery drivers,

the warehouse and factory workers,

and the farm workers laboring

tirelessly for the good of all.

 

Praise to the firemen and lawmen,

to the pharmacists, the EMTs,

the nurses, the doctors always

selflessly on the front lines.

 

Praise to the tech folks

who keep our virtual worlds

smoothly unfolding

so we can be together

in this ether of electrons.

Praise to all those online

posting messages of humor

and survival and hope.

 

Praise to the postal workers

even if it’s mostly bills, praise to

all the utility employees,

everyone who keeps the power on,

the water flowing cleanly, freely.

 

Praise to the garbage men,

praise to the cleaners and janitors

perhaps most of all, blessings

and endless praise for making

every surface safe once again.

 

Praise to the homeless man

who looked at my privileged self

with pity on his weather-beaten face

and said, “You can get through this,

honey. I’ve done it for years.”

 

Praise to human kindness

that blossoms in times of crisis,

like spring after a relentless,

crippling winter.

 

Praise to every human on earth,

even those who have not yet

discovered in their hearts

a way to be generous,

a way to reach out to others

in these uncharted times.

 

Praise to being human because

we all have the capacity

for growth and change,

and at the very least,

all can be civil,

as my counselor Jane told me

on the phone this very morning,

Most of us stop for the red light.

 

being humane

 

3-19-20

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