This Morning

This morning
I stood in the shadows
behind the screen door.
The warm sweet scent
of dogwood blowing by.
I watched as the ambulance drove away.
I heard the voices of the police officers,
on the sidewalk across the street,
muffled under their masks.
I couldn’t make out their words.
What were they saying?
Is she okay?
Is that why the ambulance left?

I walked away from the door.
Went to the kitchen.
Got a glass of water.
I could hear John talking on the phone. Laughing loudly.
I stood and stared
out the back window
at the catalpa tree.
The gray branches.
The yellow-green buds
waiting to burst into leaves.
I could hear the birds.
Singing sweetly.

I walked back to the porch.
Another car
with the hatch open.
The morticians from ‘our’ funeral home.
They put on masks.
They put on gloves.
They went into her house.
I choked on my words,
‘They’re here for her, Johnny’.
He came up behind me,
put his hands on my shoulders.
He said something.
What did he say?
I think he said
‘This is really happening.’

The air grew thick and heavy,
and time slowed to a crawl,
as the door opened,
And they carefully carried her
down the stairs.
In a bag.
And gently laid her down.
On a cart.
And slowly rolled her over.
To the car.
They lifted her.
And put her in.
They closed the hatch.
They peeled off their gloves.
They pulled off their masks.
They got into the car.
They pumped the sanitizer several times,
and sat there for a while,
wringing their hands together.

‘So much sadness’ I said,
as they all drove off,
and John walked away.
‘Too much sadness’ I said to myself,
standing in the shadows.
behind the screen.
Sobbing, silently.


  1. You are the only witness to the pandemic who we know. We don’t read much news either. We care about your experience. We want to offer compassion and friendship. Is there anything we can do for you?

  2. I know it’s the content that should be my focus, but your words, your phrasing, are what connects me to the content. Thank you for being such an eloquent witness.

  3. I think there is a comment here on perspective. While one side of a street can have beautiful views and distant laughter, a soul on the other side may be having the worst day of their life. I am constantly battling within to justify these two states. When I am having a good day I try to remember that some one else is not and when having a bad day I know that someone else is having it worse. A beautiful moment always lives on the precipice of being turned around on itself. What we take from this should be that every moment is precious and should be enjoyed to its fullest while it can be and that sorrow can be lurking around every corner. One day it will be someone across the street from me watching my worst day but my hope is that all the good ones I have had before this will easily offset that one moment. – I am sorry about your friend and neighbor

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