The Valley

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. -- Psalm 23:4

I. Air

From first cry of separation to
last sigh between bagged breaths
after nasal cannula, high-flow, bipap, proning, central lines, ventilation, chest tubes, trach, peg, double bags

        We fear
and we are alone
and those not alone
punished with infection

Desert wasteland with sun bursts, joshua trees, weeds that tumble, mountains studded with jeweled brush. Natural bridge, via unreal road, too far gone to turn back, so many passed under

        But why?
There are things other than covid
        Aren’t there?
Or has it taken all the hosts, carriers,
swabs, masks
body bags, morgue space

II. Salt

        What’d you have children for if they send you to a SNF?
No visitors
maybe no visitors ever again
but Marla Grayson got you--
        she got you good--
Tyrion Lannistor:
        not your son.

The people bad, water bad, crusted with mineral snow, salted heart with nonviable defect
Canyons gold, mountains pastel
avoid the precipice
in strong winds

The sun sets.
        Please turn back before it’s too late and too dark
        If you fall and cannot get up no one will find you until sunrise

You reach out your hand and do not see five fingers
        how many fingers now?
        how about now?
Do you feel this?

Who knew the heart of darkness would be this pretty and this cold?
What are the risks, benefits, and alternatives?

Wind, water, solar
cold water
        no electricity except human power

III. Dunes

In the desert it’s hot or cold, drenched in sweat under gown, or frigid in morgue. Too much or too little, too late.
A sandstorm makes it easy to cry, difficult to open one’s eyes
        Waves, ripples,
footprints up and down conquered hills
lips and ginas in quicksand
nothing like a
in the face

Bandanna cloth surgical KN95 turtle duck BYD 1870 top bottom shield bonnet booties

First wave
second spike
current surge

CDC warns new variants may wipe out our recent progress

        (what does the CDC know about our recent progress?)
        (just went down on peep and fraction of inspired oxygen)
undone so much
        so many

Sticks and stones won’t break my bones
        (but proning and repositioning might)
        Who is that third holding a device?
The Shadow of Darkness
        on zoom or facetime
        with family

IV. Light

Miniscule crescent moon in broad daylight
swelled to huge
        and full
against fruitless pears (the oxymoron tree)
between home and hospital
behind turbines
Night sky planisphere of guilt catching dreams and dippers

For we are all but looking for
        the way home
        (Is home other people--
        or was that hell?)

Between darkness and light
medjool dates
wasteland to hope
        to dust
funeral home
        lizard under pandemic treehouse
burial of which symbolic of
countless childhoods
under pale sand
the hourglass
only half full 


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