Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Pandemic Meditations: The Neighbors by Rachel King

Since the pandemic began listing its casualties on websites, in newspapers, under graphs in magazine articles, we have heard much about the numbers of those dead--rising or falling like ships--where the most are at any given time--how to lower or prevent the numbers--why the numbers are what they are; and we are told about strangers whose family members have died, of people who didn't believe in COVID and then died from it, of people outside of the pandemic's statistical target practice who died from it anyway. 

More rarely does the coverage focus on the empty spaces that have begun appearing in all of our lives--whether that's a child sent home from preschool because they have COVID symptoms--or the now-empty house down the street.

This week, writer Rachel King, shares two poems that take into account the kinds of loss that often aren't discussed. Please welcome her to the series.

~ E.P.


Neighbors by Paul Sableman,
used under CC license

The Neighbors

by Rachel King

One Neighbor

My neighbor across the street died from COVID.
Right now, his extended family members are over there
digging up his rose bushes. Every morning
and every evening he was outside trimming.
Every morning and every evening he said hello to me.
I know, from his wide-open windows, 
that he kept his house’s interior sparsely furnished.
And he told me that he once took a trip with his sister
to Italy. He isn’t really mine to mourn.
But the roses, wilted and untrimmed, mourn him.
I hope his family replants the bushes near his grave.

Other Neighbors

Yesterday, extended family members of my dead 
neighbor across the street moved his belongings, 
a U-Haul in the driveway, just like the people 
down the street with pit bulls. Someone driving 
down 115th probably thought two families were moving-- 
not one family and the belongings of a dead man.

A Middle Eastern family just moved in next door.
Every morning, the two little girls say hello to me
as they ride their bikes, up and down, up and down
the street. They smile, and smile, and smile
some more. It’s summer. “It’s summer!”
one tells me. “I love bikes, and I love the heat.”


Rachel King is a writer and editor. Learn more at https://www.booksrachelking.com/

❤ Find more Pandemic Meditations here: http://www.erinpringle.com/p/pandemic-meditations-series.html