Erika RasmussenMarch 12, 2021

A POEM FOR THOSE WHO HAVE DIED OF COVID-19

 

I have been seeing lately
a question on the side
of garbage boxes,
What is made bright by the loss of your light?

With every light lost we howl
How Long, O Lord?
What is made bright by the loss of these lights?
What here in this hell is made bright?

We live a story unexplainable on the earth
and it is the truest thing we know.
The human life.
Precious on the earth
as the moonbeam in night.

We never got to break waffles with you
but your eyes tell me that you lived on this earth
and did it full, wildly, full
of questions, of ache and want and delight,
a language I can and can’t understand,
and how your fingers made song on the piano
the same when Samuel tells God
I am listening

We never picked up the phone
to hear your hello
but I’m told your love was relentless,
You were a mother, sister, friend
to the world, you taught children
how to be themselves by giving
all of you, without having spoken
We are loved through you
We hear the cadence of your adoration
and remember you,
A light through which we know light

And you whose name we won’t hear,
nor your grace or your story
You were a heart beating among
2,631,949 others, all to be called yourselves
Beloved on the earth.

Our family, queer and in love
Our family, without a place
to live,
Our family, assigned a number
and uniformed between cinder blocks,
Our family, Black and brown, Asian, Indigenous
and dying,

Our family of taste buds and irrational arguments and what-ifs,
socks with holes in them and trauma and quiet epiphany,
oil smudge on the shirtsleeve,
dirt under pinky nail,
one single encounter with a ladybug
on the kneecap,

For all of it, thank you

For the first breaths
and the final breaths and the full lungs
and the goodbyes on phone calls
and the respirators
and the eyes that peek above masks
and the hospital that can’t take more
the strangers who aren’t strangers
the ache that sediments on our shoulders,
cities turned to ghost towns
prayers stuck in our throats,
hope that just can’t die.

In the heart of God each one.
Every hair on every head.
Every star up in that sky.

Nothing is made bright by the loss of your light
but nothing, no light, no one,
is ever really lost.

 


 

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