By Dhee Sankar
( “…But it wouldn’t be make-believe, if you believed in me” )
I have to practise social distancing
As though society is my closest friend.
I have to drop — cheap trinket — from your ring
Our unsocial meetings come to an end.
I am not sad: I would have snooped on you.
Better stay put and mend my RNA yarns.
My hosts are many, my friends are but too few,
But I, like your friends, took a pandemic turn.
Your ring, your crown, your kingdom and your heart
Have opened wide their cells to my false genes;
You, who never believed how it can hurt,
Believed in me, fell for my spike proteins.
Your belief is my weakness, my might:
You, who believed, uncleaved my cleavage sight.
Supermarkets are places of farewell
Where you once took me. I watched you live life
As you threw gifts into my bag pell-mell
As sure as fire is an anagram of rife
Now years have passed, I am too close to home
And farther from your store than far can feel
Our town too locked-down for four feet to roam
My isolation gone too far to heal
But aisles of supermarket sadness still
Belong to you, who else but you, the things
All wait in hopeless silence for your will
To take them home, or force them on a friend.
Despite all deadly tolls the virus brings
Your bell tolls loud, oh this is not the end
Writing poetry, for me, has always been a lonely activity, so it was particularly suited to these months of isolation. The pandemic has been a push to write about new things, things which I never thought would enter my poetry.
The influx of new crises and new ideas about reality also led me to look for new forms and idioms of expression. Family life changed for the worse; all around me, personal relationships inexplicably underwent alarming upheavals. More than anything else, writing has been a way for me to cope with all the seismic shifts, large and small, that so many of us have been facing during these times. Some of my friends have created a website called timesofcorona.com, which has already received international recognition for their remarkable work in documenting people’s creative and critical endeavours during the times of Covid. I would like everyone to check it out, since its scope overlaps substantially with that of poetryandcovid.com.