“Love in the Time of COVID-19” by Francesca Bell

Francesca Bell


for my husband, 21 years my senior

There are so many times
I could have killed you.

After 28 years of marriage—
the only contact sport
I’ve ever stuck with—

I found myself

crying this morning,
after a trip outside,
singing Happy Birthday

three times through,

just to be sure,

scrubbing despite
the sting of my split skin

as I’ve loved you
through even the rub
of the raw years.

I held my hands steady
in the water’s reassuring scald,

trying and trying
to save you.

from Poets Respond
March 28, 2020


Francesca Bell: “I wrote this poem after reading an article about how, in Italy, doctors no longer intubate anyone over the age of 60. The United States hasn’t yet reached that point, but we seem far likelier to achieve the catastrophe of Italy than we do to arrive at the relative calm of South Korea, so it got me thinking about my 74-year-old husband. I make the groceries last as long as possible, but after going out today, I had to wonder if I’d carried a death sentence home to that beloved, maddening man.” (web)

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