Love in the time of coronavirus

Love in the time of coronavirus

Do not travel. Do not go to community events.
Buy a lot of food at once, and go to the store less frequently.
Sleep as much as you can, sleep when darkness comes.
Nourish yourself with water and three good meals
and don’t ask more of your body than it is willing to give.
Take your herbs, wash your hands, drink water,
wash your hands, call your grandmother to see how she is doing.
Discuss the state of the world with your neighbors
at the post office, and with strangers
at the cafe. Speak honestly with them about your fears
because this will diminish them and bind you to each other.
Stay at home during the day,
and clean it in between work projects.
Buy stamps for letters you may write later.
Check on your supplies of soaps: for your hands,
for your body, for your laundry, for your floors.
As your town government tough questions, like:
Are you prepared for this?
As yourself tough questions, like
Am I prepared for this? Are my friends, my family?
Call your parents. Call your friends with babies.
When the house feels small, make something new
for it, or fix something old.

If possible, eat the greens that grow outside your door,
drink the remedies that grow outside your door.
Read poems. Read novels. Watch old films, or new ones.
Watch that well-produced Netflix show about cheerleaders,
read interviews with people you admire,
read writers who are long dead — they too lived
through disease, panic, extinctions.
Rebel against the idea that this is how things are now
and there is nothing we can do about it.
Consider all the ways that life is long
even as it feels taut, even as your breath gets caught
in your throat, your chest, even as you worry
each time you sneeze, or have a tickle in your throat.

Do something good for yourself that you’re not used to doing—
like saying no to plans with people who diminish you,
like brushing your hair for a long time after the shower
just for the pleasure of bristles on your scalp.
Cook yourself something very intricate
using the spices in your home that rarely get used.
Cook something in the oven that takes all day
and come out soft, and yielding, and rich.
Clip your toenails, pumice your heels, soak your feet.
Label and sort the pile of papers that you side-eye daily.
Run up a hill and roll back down it like you used to
when you were a kid. Did your pants get wet? All the better.

Change your pants, make a pile of old pants to donate.
Make a pile of old towels, old hats, old forks to donate.
Roll up the rug and sweep underneath it.
Sharpen all your pencils, throw out all the pens that don’t work.
Watch an old-school exercise video and do your very best
to execute all the moves correctly.
Take a bath in water as hot as you can stand it
while rereading a novel you loved as a teenager
which will sound nothing like how you remember it.
Peel an apple slowly while looking out the window
at the birds who know nothing of our pandemic.
Find out where in the moon cycle we are
and watch for the moon as night descends.
Open the door, smell the air, close the door, smell your home.
Name your house and draw the name on wood, on paper.
Burn herbs on a ceramic plate.
Watch a tutorial about how to braid hair
the way your childhood idol always braided hers.
Buy more eggs than you usually do
and make pasta. Make sauce. Eat
with whomever is in your home, or bring the meal
to someone who is at risk of getting sick.

When you go out, nod to each person you see,
as each of them is also undergoing this crisis.
Think of America as your people,
think of all countries as your people,
look around your house and see all the people
in all the countries who made all your things
with their time, their bodies.
Sing like a child, laugh like a child,
accept the childlike outbursts
that may come from your mouth.
Listen to the news, but do not watch it.
Or: read the news but do not listen to it.
One form of the news is enough.

Make a list of the things that have happened in your life
that made you laugh so hard that food or fluids
catapulted from your face. Call your friend
to help you remember the details of one of them.
Find the family heirlooms in your home and look at them,
really look. Think about how they were made,
from what materials. Consider your own body’s materials,
and how to mend and care for them.
Consider this crisis a climate crisis;
consider this planet a place where you actually live,
not just a theory, not just a globe in space,
a photograph you have seen a million times.
Even as all the hard questions come at once,
remember also: spring is on its way. And summer.
Remember that your body is your house, your home,
your haven, your hideaway. Breathe air into your nose
and out your mouth. Whether or not you are a parent,
you are a parent to your own entire being.

Watching old tv shows can be medicine. Doing stretches
can be medicine. Baking bread can be medicine.
Cutting a loved one’s hair can be medicine.
Wine can be medicine, pop music can be medicine,
watching a chipmunk catapult off a rock can be medicine.
Organizing the photos on your phone can be medicine.
Detailing your own car can be medicine.
Using a stick to divert the direction of flowing water
in the road can be medicine. Your children
are your medicine, and you are medicine
to your parents. You can be medicine to others
in ways you never expected, just by calling,
just by video calling, just by writing an email,
just by sending something in the mail,
just by sitting at home and making friendship bracelets
like you did at summer camp when a summer
was a lifetime you’d live through with delight.

This is not a time of delight, not a time of light,
though the light is returning to us each day,
the days lasting longer, the birds arriving to build.
So what can we build inside our own homes
that wasn’t already there, and what can we build
between each other that wasn’t already here
so that the next time this happens to us
we will have already built a home for this fear,
we will have constructed the walls out of love
and the doors out of love and we will sing to each other
through the windows out of love and feel held, though untouched.

— Taylor Mardis Katz, March 13, 2020

2 thoughts on “Love in the time of coronavirus

  1. I am filled with awe after reading your poem. Thank you. I hope you will not mind if I post this on my page without acknowledgement, out of respect for your privacy. It may help others whom you do not know but I do.

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