The Sky Over Wuhan

By Donna T. Obeid

We think life will always go on the same way,
Our freedoms as endless as the days.

Gradually it seeps in –
The reports and numbers from the other side of the world.
Until one day, what we had is already gone.

Stay home, the politicians say.
Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Stay six feet apart.

Canned goods and noodles and toilet paper are the first to disappear.
Students are asked to leave. Staff are told to take essential things.
Graduation is cancelled. Museums and theaters and hotels close.
My brother bakes bread. My father cleans his cellar.

Planes lie like sleeping giants.
Cars vanish, the trains stop running.

Spring is silent this year but for the beeping of dying hearts,
The quiet opening of buds, the song of sparrows.

Where are the masks?
Where are the emergency supplies?

In Bergamo, sirens scream across the sky.
Military trucks transport the dead through the town.
In Madrid, the ice rink is turned into a morgue.
Nurses and doctors openly cry. Then even they begin to die.

Italians sing from the balconies, their voices lacing over the piazzas.
The sky over Wuhan becomes blue again.
Frogs and fish appear in the Venice canals.

We dream of when it will end. We dream of dressing up, doing our hair.
We will fling open the doors and come out one by one.
We will hug and kiss and greet each other as old friends.

Years from now, we might find ourselves sitting on a bench in the sunlight
Suddenly weeping when we recall the precise moment we were permitted
To begin again.

Donna Obeid currently lives in Stanford, California. For more about Donna, please visit:

The pandemic has put up close and center how fleeting life is, how quickly everything can change. Time spent in lockdown is a reset, a bit like being up in the air between where you’ve just been and where you are going. Perhaps you come to look at yourself and your place in the world a bit differently. Perhaps you learn to love more.

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Kazu Iwasaki
Kazu Iwasaki
1 year ago

Dear Donna,

Your poet made my heart warm and calm. I recall days I stayed at Stanford. Although it was only a short period of time, participants around the world exchanged their candid opinions about given topics from professors and lecturers, face to face without wearing masks.
That was a precious moment I experienced before the Stay-Home phenomena spread across the globe.

I also earned B.A. in the field of English Literature at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. (Later, earned MA in ICT at KCGI, the Kyoto College of Graduate School of Applied Information Technology). I now will take off to another new adventure, studying MBA at CASS Business School.

Take care of yourself.
Last but not least, I hope you and your colleagues happiness and well-being.

Till the day we meet again with firm handshakes.

Sincerely yours,
Kazu Iwasaki

1 year ago
Reply to  Kazu Iwasaki

So proud of you, Kazu! I remember our time together so fondly and look forward to seeing you on campus again someday!

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