By Megha Anne Wilson

I have so much to speak.
So many words that stammer, pause and tell in my head
waiting to jut out of my mouth,
onto my hand
through the pen
onto the page or screen.
But they stop on their way out, as though they have been petrified by something dark,
so scary ,
so terrifying.

It is the sight of death,
The wailing, the crying,
The ringing of the phone,
The tinging messages,
All speaking of the visitor of death.

I have seen people convulsing,
Heavy breathing with listless eyes, dying
Sitting watching their loved ones dying
Within mere minutes
Mere seconds
Mere life

I saw three sons, jumping one by one on top of their dying mother
Beating her like a drum
In frenzy
To save her
To make her come back alive
On that hospital bed she lay on
Gasping for air.
The Monitor had shown a flatline before
But somehow she was revived
But Again
Mere minutes
Mere seconds
She was gone
Gone again
There was a flatline

They jumped up on her
And beat her chest, while onlookers stood
As helpless and terrified.

They beat her wildly
Crying for their mother
To come back
Come back
Please come back!
To hold them as she had once done
With her hands
And her gaze.
They jumped
And flailed her with all their hands and all their might
For that flatline on the screen to start bobbing
To not be flat
Please just not be flat.
Come Back
Please come back.

I have seen hundreds of dead bodies float up on the shores of my rivers
Into banks and sands where they met hundreds of other bodies.
Abandoned in death
Abandoned in grief
Their families struck bluntly with the horror of having lost someone forever,
Someone they were just talking to a few minutes back,
Someone who had held their hand,
Someone who had taught them to walk
And dreamt
And hoped
And promised
How much silent can silence get?

I have seen my neighbour
His son,
An uncle,
An aunt,
A friend,
His mother
And his sister

Death was never like this
Never kept coming and coming and coming and coming
Each day
Each hour
Death was never so frequent and terrible.
It was lenient, more careful
Spaced out, helping me get on with it
Slow and steady.
But today,
Death rampages
I might not see you ever
And you might never be there.
How much silent can silence get?

Yes, beyond the governments and the institutions that govern us, it is a human failure
A failure to understand
That nature
Will always be a step ahead
A step behind
A step aside
A step asunder
That we begin to wonder
Whether all that we built was a waste.
All governments and charters
And ministers and martyrs.
A waste
When all we needed was a gulp of good air.

But we threw all that wasn’t to be thrown into our oceans
All that wasn’t to be buried, we buried in our soil
All that wasn’t to be air, was breathed
Till at last
It came to this
Being hung onto a nail
Abandoned by ambition
That once led us into thinking of horizons of
Starlit building
And starlit cars.
Lighting our world, ignition.

Ambitions of money, of power and greed
Of which there was never
A need
But we forced on
And forced on
On top the poor the burden of our comfort
Of our food
Of our greed.
From which there was no return.

Birds were hunted, mass killings of trees
Animals displaced
Children trafficked
Rivers left dry of their fishes

Remember, those fishes, gasping across the deck of the boat,
That once adorned TV screens
We watched
The shimmering dying bodies
For air.

It is us now
It is you now
That is you and me.

Let us all keep quiet for that is us now.

Amidst this suffering,
I see life carrying on
I see people help each other.
I see families being reunited
I see friends talking to each other
I see the Peepal tree outside my room, bloom, and dance to the May Breeze
The waning moon,
The dawn ushering the sun of the sky.
I see the blue sky
With all that it has endured
In the past month
Singed with the burnt flesh of its children rising up
Searing through it
And making a flatline of grief and terror.

I can never make that flatline go away.
It keeps beeping
With the loss
The fear
The terror
The wail
The siren
Of families lost
Gone wild with grief and destruction
With anger for leaders and ministers
Who never warned?
Never prepared
Never led

With anguish for the many children
On the streets
Living in fear
Parents dead from the disease
Whatever must be happening to them?
To them?
To them?

With suffering
Cruel as it may be
It will stay
In the eyes of my neighbour who sees her young dead husband every day.

In the hands of that child, who held her father every morning?
On the skins of many will be etched the silence of the misery they endured
How much silent can silence get?
Yet alone
Each day
For them to come back
Come back
Come back
Please come back papa.
Please mummy come back.
My son, come back
Just come back for once.
In return there is that never ending
Never returning

Megha Anne Wilson is from India. She is a literature graduate from Delhi University and loves to travel the mountains. She is a serious dog lover and a tree hugger. Words help her steer her imagination but in the current pandemic, she is faced with an acute pause, of one she is wanting to speak but can’t somehow.

 I am Megha and I am 24 years old. I am seeing death every day. Last year, the virus was away from us but this year, it’s taken so many people- my friends, their friends, their parents, aunts, uncles. These are the people, I grew up with. Writing during the pandemic has not meant any sense of relief. Words fail to garner the deaths coming each day one by one. The fear and paranoia just don’t go. Every day I look at my phonebook and hope no one else goes. Mostly, I sit on my balcony to look at the trees and the stars. They remove me from my thoughts of grief for a bit and I am grateful to them. I talk to my friends knowing perhaps that it might be the last time. I hug my dog and my parents, touch the trunks of the trees, watch my mother cook, and my father breathe. Right now, I am just grateful for this moment because that is all I have. 

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Bishnu shankar mahapatra Mahapatra
Bishnu shankar mahapatra Mahapatra
2 years ago

I got goosebumps reading it ..Thank you for writing and sharing this .
Much love and strength to you.

2 years ago

so poignant and painful

Clive Reed
Clive Reed
2 years ago

Outstanding…thank you!

Poetry and Covid-19 ARCHIVE (This website archives the over 1000 poems submitted by over 600 poets, and viewed by over 100,000 from over 125 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, June 2020-June 2021). Thank you to all who took part in the Poetry and Covid project.

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