Embraces, a pandemic poem

 
 
 
 Lana Hechtman Ayers
  
 Embraces
             a pandemic poem
  
 A few nights ago, in the car
 on our way to our sheltering place,
 I was contemplating how all over 
 the virtual world
 there is fear and poetry,
 people reporting sadness
 and success at isolation.
  
 All I could think was dark thoughts,
 how in two weeks or so
 many of us will be ill,
 and some gone forever.
  
 “Six degrees of separation,”
 my husband said, as our car careened
 through ghost town streets,
 “guarantees we will know someone
 whose life the virus claims.
 “And yet,” he continues, “Statistically,
 only a couple of percent of 
 the billions of people on earth
 will die, so, it’s truly unlikely
 that it will be you or me.”
  
 I was a Mathematics major 
 in college many decades ago,
 so my rational mind should 
 have believed him.
 But the only place my thoughts 
 could traverse was
 we haven’t written our wills.
  
 Our two dogs asleep in the back seat
 dreamt with bated breaths, 
 perhaps chasing prey,
 unknowing of the prey
 all we humans had become.
  
 At home, where we’ll remain
 for untold months to come,
 we may hurt for healthy groceries,
 supplements, cleaning supplies, 
 but reading material 
 and entertainment channels flourish.
 However, no amount of binge
 watching British police dramas
 quells my prospering fears.
  
 The only way I manage even
 a few hours of restless sleep
 is to keep inventing a movie 
 inside my head I hope someday
 some director will actually film—
  
 unreeling across my closed eyelids
 I watch strangers hugging 
 in restaurants, strangers hugging
 in offices, in the middle of crowded
 streets, hugging in grocery stores 
 and at gas stations—
  
 this and only this allows me 
 to let go of the day’s dread, 
 this envisioning of humans
 reaching out for one another,
 with open arms and hearts,
 these embraces after pandemic 

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