Note to the Pandemic

Forgive us for writing this brief note
instead of speaking face-to-face.
We thought it better, for safety’s sake.
It’s been hard to know just how to relate
since you first barged through our door.
We’d never met before that day,
yet you didn’t knock—
just swept in like you owned the place
and settled yourself for a nice, long stay.

What were we supposed to do?
Let you move about, but keep our distance?
Lock you in the master suite?
Some thought if we let you have your way,
you’d soon get bored and go away.

Every day you wander room to room,
listing all the flaws in our big old house.
She’s sick, you say, pointing out the cracks
in the foundation and the walls,
the outdated wiring,
the leaky roof,
the leaden pipes,
the uneven floors,
all the crooked windows and doors,
every corner that isn’t square—
problems we never knew were there
or didn’t want to see.
We can always tell where you’ve been inspecting
by the smell that rises up and spreads.
We’ve learned to hold our breath.
When the house at night is trying to sleep,
it fills with the sound of your quiet weeping.

Right now you’re up in the attic again,
rafters creaking beneath your feet.
We’ve laid your suitcase on your bed.
When you finish, please pack and go.
You’ve done us a favor, exposing our troubles,
though we wish you’d chosen another way.
Leave us your list of things to fix.
The best place to start is where we begin.

Play notes: I asked myself, "What might the pandemic have come to teach us?" This poem is the answer that emerged.