A poem about what matters in a pandemic

What Is Essential?

What actually matters in a pandemic?

Some things are not:

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp…

Memes galore

All cling like creeping ivy to the battered tree of me

Gradually strangling what little free space is left in my soul

The life blood of my attention drained away

But I can’t remember a time without them

Like those hairy vines with their shiny three-pronged leaves signaling danger:

— if you try to extract this one you will regret it later

— welts and blisters bubbling in remorse

Our dysfunctional digital lives make identification of distractions difficult

We must tread carefully

Wash our hands and cleanse our inboxes.

Accretions of apps, tweets, emails, posts, notifications, Zooms, Slacks, logins, updates, backgrounds…

Afterall, mere distractions

What is essential?

A baby’s laugh

A mother’s embrace

Our ability to discern

The slightest crinkling of crow’s feet

— a friendly smile

Hidden behind a mask

The smell of freshly mowed grass

Let me be like a buttercup on that huge lawn

After the mower has shorn the inessential

I can rise again

Popping back up

To brighten someone’s day

Reflecting the goodness of the sun


I am interested in paradoxes, contradictions, people, culture, and being human. I write and translate DE-EN | MFA student Non-Fiction. www.bettinahindes.com

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