An Excerpt From Dreams in Isolation: The World in Shadow; Poems of Hope and Resilience by Melissa A. Chappell

Pandemic

 

Do you remember,

as the alarm bells were crying,

how we were silent in the radiant light,

our blood roiling red with the ruins of the sun.

Do you remember,

as the warnings were rising,

how we once lowered the moon

till it lay pale on our backs.

Do you remember,

as the virus spread across the world,

how once we curled, small, like a fiddlehead fern,

forgetting everything,

forgetting everything.

 

 

 

Elmhurst, O Elmhurst

Elmhurst, the only public hospital in New York State was founded to serve the poor in 1832.

It serves Western Queens County.

 

Elmhurst, O Elmhurst,

I did not know you in your mothering shift

of glass and mortar.

 

I ticked off your name in my mind

as you caught my ear on the morning radio:

“Elmhurst.”

 

This, as I authored my own survival.

 

Perhaps I may be one of the remnant.

 

Perhaps this wasting bane

may steal away on some wing

of the breeze.

 

But, no, Corona prefers to steal the air

from the ravaged world;

 

so that one day I saw on my 52 in. screen,

Elmhurst,

with an almost snake like refrigerated truck,

parked outside its venerable walls,

the vile work of Corona

unmasked,

by the shining light of day;

 

so that, the wretched of God gathered at the hem

of her cheerless garments.

 

The poor and the dead,

thronging around her.

 

She has mothered them for generations,

now they lie dead in the emergency room,

with none to kiss their brow.

 

She weeps over those who have waited so long

to be sheltered by her.

 

Yet she rejoices in those who leave her,

walking from her doors.

 

Elmhurst, O Elmhurst, I did not know you

in your mothering shift

of glass and mortar.

 

Yet now, now, I catch the genesis

of the most improbable invitation

on a wind that comes

out of the surly darkness:

“Breathe, breathe.

I will keep your going out

and your coming in.”

 

This, for the poor who gather around

the shabby fringes of the earth.

 

This, for you, O Elmhurst,

form this time on,

and forevermore.

 

 

Such Tender Mercies

 

My Beloved lies deep,

My Beloved lies deep

within this tomb that does not

even bear his name.

Silent, finally, he rests,

his body mutilated.

anointed

with

fragrant oils

with such endearments

such tender mercies,

by the hands of

the women who

shared in the dust,

the rains, the thunderous

storms of his journeys.

Now in death they were

nearer to him than they

had ever been in life.

In sacred intimacy they

wrapped his poor body

in white linen graveclothes.

Now he would rest,

Surely they left the tomb weeping,

on that day before new creation.

But for now,

My Beloved lies sleeping.

the sleep of death.

in such tender mercies,

such tender mercies.

 

 

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