“Fatigue” by Jill Kandel

Jill Kandel


I’m on the Day with No
Groceries day of the two-week cycle
which means I’m off to buy veggies and
you’d think I’d be used to my long-mandated mask
which makes it hard for me to understand what others
are saying and also sticks to my face as my breath gradually
fogs up my glasses already smeared from putting on and taking off
this, my handsewn slightly crooked mask, all the while trying to retain some semblance
of put-together-ness which went out the window some time ago and belongs
in the land of long forgotten things like hugs and real-life visits
and shared smiles that can actually be seen, dimple
to dimple, but what’s a person supposed to do
except cry, cry for my sweet friend battling
brain cancer and I can’t go visit him, his
systems shrouded in compromise
and Covid
restricting visits even from his
wife—depending on the hospital the clinic
the treatment the day and the hour—from going inside
with him and sitting beside him in his pain and his confusion, his veiled
hope and pallid suffering, and my other friend who just happens to live in the same city,
who placed her mother into a nursing home for people with dementia
the day before the nursing home shut to outside visitors, daughters included,
even daughters of newly admitted mothers who will go on to catch
Covid and die in that brand-new shining facility blanketed
with so much hope just two months earlier,
so even though I want to harangue
and childishly rage
joining in
the chorus of people
on Facebook and Twitter who hate
this politician and that party, smugly promoting
one cover-up or another, the wearing of masks (#MaskUpMN #WearADamnMask)
or not wearing of masks (#IwillNOTComply #NoMaskSelfie) I can’t join
in because it’s not that I’m really angry or mad or feel rant-ish,
it’s that it just keeps going on and on and on and on
into a future that predicts more and longer and still
here tomorrow and into the fall
and even the winter, and
I’m tired,
tired of being heartsore,
tired of listening to my friend
a hospice nurse who can’t hold her dying
patients’ hands and is trying to Zoom into their lives
as if she’s real, as if she’s there when in reality she could be a thousand
miles away, a woman on a screen and some days a screen is just not enough
to wrap around our sorrow and that’s what screams out to me, the grief, the longing,
the loss of what I used to know, the loss of who I used to be, and more
than that, the disappearance of who we used to be, how we
used to walk so carefree, so bold and vibrant
through this our now curtained
and weary world.

from Poets Respond
October 4, 2020


Jill Kandel: “CNN carried a story on September 27 that the US cases have surpassed 7 million, and we can still expect to see an explosion of Covid-19 this fall and winter. I wanted to write beneath the surface of the pandemic, the veneer of daily frustrations, and into the heart of our sorrows.” (web)

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