pandemic: a poem for our times
by Talia Franks
I live online.
My lifeblood the wires of this machine,
sending signals to the
My heart beats to the rhythm of clicks on a keyboard
My serotonin levels calculated to
the number of likes on my latest photograph
the number of kudos on my latest fanfic
the number of retweets on my latest post.
When will it ever be enough?
Interacting through the world with a webcam,
it doesn’t matter
if you’re a little sloppy —
hair on the frizzier side
nail polish splashing on surrounding skin
When you’re only seen through a screen,
no one sees —
the bags under your eyes
the clothes that don’t fit
the clothes that fit too well
the clothes that you’ve been wearing for three days straight because you haven’t showered and are just cycling through different shirts.
But sure I shower, get dressed,
spray cologne for no one but me.
Make myself up for the ‘gram.
All dressed up with nowhere to go.
All dressed up for the grocery store,
For my walk where I stay six feet away
Always six feet away.
One day I hadn’t left the house in so long,
I forgot to wear a mask.
It was like that nightmare,
Where suddenly you realize you’re in the middle of a crowd and completely naked.
I almost threw up, and I did start crying.
I never go anywhere without at least 3 spare masks.
I try to think the best of strangers
because imagining that millions
hate so much of who I am
hurts just a little too much.
I tell myself that she’s just tired
And her shitty day isn’t my problem.
I tell myself that he was ridiculed
anytime someone saw him cry.
I tell myself that they’re hangry,
and I caught them at a bad time.
Me on my worst day
is very different
from me on my best day.
I’d ask myself for the grace I give others,
but I think it’s used up.