Sunday, November 20, 2022


you know how it is

when your heart constricts

to the point where your chest and back hurt

when breath seems like a three dimensional thing

instead of a gas

it’s how you feel at the bedside of

a dying loved one

or when your spouse leaves

or when a child is in rehab again

or when your dog runs into traffic

it just hurts

today i can’t breathe

not because my loved ones are in danger

but the 35 year old who is brain dead

and the 29 year old with anoxic brain injury

and the 87 year old with dementia

and the other five people actively dying

and the 70 year old with the terminal diagnosis

I can’t breathe

with no room to process

no help 

no where to go

and the boss in on vacation

and my husband is on pilgrimage

and my kids moved thousands of miles away

and the dog’s not much help

I can’t breathe

and albuterol does not help

I can’t breathe

so I recite the prayers

in mumbled ritual

images of PAPR helmets

and yellow gowns

and ventilators being removed

and iPads filled with the 

faces of crying loved ones

I fill my lungs with precious air

and remind myself that I can breathe

I am NOT in the middle of the pandemic

that today is just a horrible bad day

I have colleagues who will hold me as 

I hold them

my heart will mend

my lungs will mend

I will mend