I swear I’m going to have twenty incomplete/half-edited poems because after working for several hours on a poem about new research suggests COVID-19 seems to be affecting more than just lungs, including attacking the heart; I suddenly started spewing forth ideas from a couple of articles I’d read about the flu pandemic of 1918-19 (often erroneously or unfairly called Spanish flu). It’s almost like I’ve got to write for a while on one topic before I can let the right one out.
Anyway, he’s a wee trip back in time that might shed some light on both the present & the future …
humanity has been learning
to live with a new disease — new to us
which in itself is nothing new
the one everyone keeps
harping on about is the H1N1
influenza outbreak of 1918–19
three waves washed round
the world infecting 500 million
then killing between a tenth & a fifth
the end arrived only when immunity
was conferred — transforming
H1N1 from pandemic to endemic
then it hung round for 40 —
— more — years — as a seasonal virus
though at much less severe levels
despite all our efforts
it didn’t disappear till 1957
when a new pandemic H2N2
eradicated almost the entire
H1N1 — one flu virus strain
somehow supplanting another
& the scariest part?
— scientists don’t really
know how it did it
30 years ago today, Easter Sunday 1990 (April 15 of that year), my fiancé/soulmate & I experienced the first of three miscarriages of our three and half year relationship. We were kids, both 19.
Back then there was no internet, we didn’t know where to go get support, no easy way of knowing that we were not unique in this. But it happened twice more during the next two & half years. Each time got harder, harder to come back from. Eventually our relationship ended, in no small part due to the stresses & sadnesses of those three losses; although there were other circumstances complicating things too.
I have never fully recovered from the loss; almost daily wonder what different paths my life would have taken had I become a father way back then. It damaged me in ways I didn’t understand for decades. It took almost 25 years to “process” the grief (even though I still feel it) but eventually my alter-ego wrote & staged a 1-woman play which got much of the pain out of me … & enabled me to find a fragile kind of peace. Naturally, I’ve written countless poems about it. & every Na/GloWriPoMo the poem on April 15 or Easter Sunday is bound to explore it in some way. That’s another little gift: the fact that it has two “anniversaries” which have only aligned once in the last 30 years.
Also helping is the fact that a once young person I taught drama to writes about her miscarriages so honestly, lovingly, & beautifully on facebook (that often trite medium). I believe her words are profoundly positive & healing for me, herself, her partner, friends & family, & no doubt many others. I also love how someone I once taught is now teaching me. Thanks, Alice, for giving me the courage to write this post so openly & reinforcing the serenity to know it’s okay on those days when coping doesn’t seem possible.
pandemic for one
this disease : infects & reinfects my mind : repeatedly : over decades : every easter : of course : but christmases too : birthdays : facebook posts : of friends celebrating : first days of school : & 21sts : & weddings : & births of grandkids : & just about anything fucking else : can set it off : a time bomb explosion : of regret : anger : what ifs : why mes : & i wonders :
there is no herd immunity : i am the herd : reinfection is frequent : sometimes more virulent : than ever before : the curve has not flattened : the only cure : a wormhole