What I Did During The Pandemic

In the beginning, I went to France.
Joined a friend who was mourning
her brother’s death
in our favorite quiet
Le Luberon
(Knowing well our privilege)

We spent quiet beautiful days
rain or shine
wandering thru les villages perchés
of the hill country
Café lunches with friends
old and new
(Taking for granted our movements,
our moments together)

But in the soft not-quite-spring evenings
back chez nous petit chalet
behind la grande maison de votre ami
Each evening
drinking just purchased vin ordinaire
from some small local vignoble or other
We read the news
and the increasingly frantic texts
from friends and family
(Wondering if we were wise)

Until we left our private mourning time
to return
Return to…
(Ah, there’s the rub)
to return to the expected quarantine
and the unexpected rest of it

We left our private woe
only to join in the mass mourning
for every vestige of normal life suddenly lost
and for lives lost, more every day,
piling up
corpse upon corpse
(Like the centuries old stone walls in France
leaned upon by Ceasar’s marching legions.)

I look out the window
and watch my husband outside
build a low stone wall around our side garden
While upstairs
my mother makes more masks
And downstairs
I spend too much time
on the internet
(As if l were still a working epidemiologist)

What did I do during the pandemic?
I remembered France
I remembered America
I remembered New York
I remembered New Orleans
I remembered life
Not as now
(As then, as when)

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