Creative Poetry Spoken Word

Blooming | A COVID Poem

The morning started like any other.
I swung my unshaved legs over the edge
of a bed tangled with need-to-be-washed sheets
and stretched in way
that reminds me I’ve been sitting
in stillness for twenty-two days.
I wake with gratitude.
For having a home to shelter me
when I’ve been without one for a year.
For a mother who took me in
following the months of my divorce
and the chance to care for a grandmother
I never had a relationship with.

I am grateful.

For all the seemingly wrong decisions
I made at the time,
that were really just preparing me for this reality.
One where I can hold space for others’ fear,
because I’ve been locked down in countries before.
One where freelance equates to constant uncertainty,
but I’m finding stability now in my writing.
I’m writing.
And making money from my writing,
despite being told I never would,
which means I can aide other artists
through creating art of my own.
I made it.

I am grateful.

Yet, I didn’t notice
I couldn’t smell my coffee as it brewed.
The scent billowing, but not registering
in my senses beyond the sound of it splashing
in an empty cup, filling.
I didn’t notice
the smell of my dog’s breath
against my cheek
as she licked my face good morning.
I didn’t taste the peppermint
from my toothbrush pulsating
in my mouth, foaming.

I didn’t notice.

Until the blossoms of the citrus tree
gave it away.
I have smelled them
every sunny morning when I sit beneath the windchime
grateful to witness the world blooming.
This springtime a mirror
for the potential of our stillness.
If we plant the seeds and nourish them,
the roots will support many seasons.
Each harvest, more plentiful than the last.
A sweetness in the evolving strength.
I am taking root in the stillness.

I am grateful.

Then it hits me.
I can’t smell anything.
I can’t taste anything, either.

I grab a fallen orange,
peel back the rind,
force my nose into the pulp,
take a bite.
And nothing.
I put extra onions on my bagel. And garlic.
Just to prove a point.

Nothing.

I pull out the perfume from France
that reminds me of a love
who was supposed to arrive in four weeks,
but I may never hold in my arms again
because of bans on international travel.
And nothing.
Except sadness.
I felt that in my bones.
Where I’m suddenly realizing
the creaks from my bedside stretching
are actually fatigue finally creeping in.
I inhale deeply
and cough violently.
Suddenly,

I am afraid.

I only know one person who tested positive for COVID.
He lost his smell, too.
And then his taste.
And then things got really, really bad.

This is the monster I’ve been told to fear.
I feel it now.
Inside me.
It’s foreign.
Unlike any sickness I have previously known.
Claiming its territory in my wounded lungs
from an embolism a few years prior.

I am afraid.

Not just for me,
but for my grandmother.
The vulnerability that is present
within the walls of our home.
I go from grateful to lethal in a single day.
I quarantine within quarantine.
Isolating myself
between my bedroom
and a separate bathroom,
but at least they give me access to the outside.
I watch the world keep blooming.

Eight days.

I stopped wearing deodorant,
but continued sweltering in the sun,
and couldn’t smell the body baking beneath it.
Once my ritual for savor,
I drank coffee for the effects,
but the fatigue now residing in my bones
was often stronger.
The roulette of symptoms
left me guessing at the top of the hour
if the day was about to turn for the worse.
Never breaking a fever,
I was refused to be seen.
A daily phone call to the clinic
said unless I break a fever of 100
it’s probably not COVID.
But if it is.
Tylenol.
Vitamin C.
Hot fluids.
Sleep.
Repeat.

Twelve days.

I’m finally getting stronger.
I inhale.
I don’t cough.
I can smell the citrus blooms.
I am alive.
I am grateful.

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