COVID-19 takes its toll,
A time of darkness in my soul.
It’s hard to breathe, like suffocation,
The fever brings painful sensation
And debilitating fatigue;
This virus in a whole new league.
I yearn to take full cleansing breath
Without the fear of choking death.

The whole world suffers this pandemic
And gnawing fear becomes systemic.
Overwhelming uncertainty,
We feel such insecurity.
The long days become longer weeks;
Where’s the hope humanity seeks?

I’ve always been gregarious,
But “safer at home” mandate for us
Will keep me from family and friends;
I pray this isolation ends.
Follow guidelines, stay in my room,
My castle feels more like a tomb,
A prison, people kept from me,
My cell’s not locked, but I’m not free.
Every day there’s more to miss,
Slipping toward that dark abyss.

I reach out: texts, Facebook, emails,
But many times these feel like fails.
I’ve lost my voice, can’t use the phone,
I miss friends’ voices, feel alone.
Try to keep brave happy face,
But inside is a lonely space.
I pray Dear God, help me survive,
I really want to stay alive,
I need your loving help and grace,
Your strength to deal with all I face.

This nether world in which we live
Has taken much, little to give.
What was will never be again,
We can’t get back what we had then.
The world has changed, we must change too,
Create new norms for what we do.

Sunshine used to bring me joy;
Now it’s like a cruel ploy,
Beckoning and teasing me,
Come outdoors and just be free.
But walking now, even a bit,
Brings on another coughing fit.
My damaged lungs won’t take in air;
My inner child cries “It’s not fair!”

Tattered remnants of bygone days:
Cancelled musicals, ballets,
Entertainment at The Rep,
Everything seems out of step.
The former world I took for granted
Overnight has been supplanted.
No more outings with shared meals
Until such time our planet heals.
The warmth of hugs and human touch
Are treasures that I miss so much.
Laughter with friends, camaraderie,
Are even more precious to me.

I miss the fellowship at church,
The holding hands, so now I search
Another way to fill that void,
Different means must be deployed
To satisfy that painful yearning,
Every day new ways discerning.
I reach out, hope others reach back,
To build back bonds that we now lack.

Necessities in short supply
Empty store shelves, cannot buy
The sanitizing things we need,
TP hoarded – fear and greed.
Donning masks and gloves to shop,
When will these precautions stop?

Turned 70 in quarantine,
But cards and texts tell me I’m seen,
That I’m remembered, loved and cherished,
So happy those things haven’t perished.

Can’t be with Mom, those precious days
Are lost forever in a haze.
Each day that’s lost I can’t retrieve,
Each hug not felt I sorely grieve.

World in lockdown – flatten the curve,
People seek new ways to serve.
Reaching out to lend a hand,
Create the good and take a stand.
To stay apart is wise these days,
Yet come together in new ways.
Hearts on windows and front doors,
Chalked messages greet those outdoors.
We find new ways to be “together”
To strengthen us through stormy weather.

So grateful for food brought to me,
Which nourishes more than body.
The homemade soups and crusty bread
Keep soul and body both well fed.
I taste the love in every bite;
It gets me through this awful plight.

We don’t know what the future holds,
But as this pandemic unfolds,
We know who holds life in His hands;
All nature follows His commands.
Lives and livelihoods are lost,
We’re paying a tremendous cost.

Yet when we reach the other side,
Let’s trust the lessons haven’t died.

The courage of those on front lines
Who risk their safety in these times,
Doctors, nurses, truckers, sales staff,
Those who support us, make us laugh,
These are our heroes, valued so much,
As they share their healing touch.
All I encountered in ER
Have really raised the caring bar.
I see these selfless in new light,
Their sacrifices in this fight.
I hope we gain new empathy
For all in human family.
We are not islands in this world
But see shared destiny unfurled.

We live now in a liminal space
Between what was, what will replace,
Time of transition and not knowing,
Time to transform and keep on growing
To everything there is a season,
And though we may not know the reason,
Transformation lies before us
If we trust and let it form us.

Easter Sunday dawns anew
Without the gatherings I knew.
Yet resurrection and salvation
Still will bathe our struggling nation
And light will break forth from the tomb
And cleanse our souls from current gloom.
Have faith and know our loving God
Illuminates the paths we’ve trod
And listens when we offer prayer
And trust he always will be there.

A poem written by Love Thy Neighbor Workshop Attendee Marie Guzman
April 2020