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Two Covid-19 Poems

"We keep our distance"

Published onMay 27, 2020
Two Covid-19 Poems

“Pandemic Panic Pedestrian.” The normally packed Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas around 10:30 pm on March 23, 2020. Photo courtesy of John Winters Photography


We keep our distance.
We need our space.
We work in separate rooms,
but we can zoom
right up to your face.

We are building up resistance
to each other. The diet
is what you would expect.
The streets are so quiet
you can hear the silence
buzzing like an insect.

We know how to protect
our face, our hands, from you,
an acceptable level of violence.
What else are we supposed to do?

I wish I could wash my hands
of you, grief, I wish
you came off with soap
and water, no longer
sickening, no longer
death I can hand
to stranger, or friend,
saying, “Hello, I share
this grief with you,
unaware that I do. There
it is, along with all it may
or may not do to me,
to you, yet to be.”
I scrub and scrub as if
this were dirt, not skin,
till I hurt, certain that,
grief, you are still
and always will be there.

Alan Altimont lives with his wife and daughter in Austin, Texas, where he has taught literature and writing courses at Saint Edward’s University for 35 years.

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