Virus and Void

From virus to virus
I have kept my date with not dying,
tossing and turning in sheets,
cough syrups and repurposed antibiotics.
Inside me, the pathogen worms,
outside me, the pathogen storms,
in the middle of it all: a spent spring.

Intervals of time don’t matter,
intervals of distance don’t matter.
(Intervals of vaccines don’t matter.)
Sentience is a gap in the median
that permits rogue thoughts
swerving in just to prove
a carnage on the tarmac.

In time,
in extant time,
in lost time,
in distant time,
in times remembered and unremembered,
I forgot the words before I read them,
erased the prose before I threaded them;
in the fervently obsolescing freeway,
I am the one who couldn’t
apply the power brake.
Virus after virus,
void after void,
I am the Lazarus who didn’t
come back.


  1. No version of the Wuhan virus has touched me or where I live as yet, so I observe the puerile going-ons of politicians and their ilk without much of a context on my part. So (for me) I couldn’t call it as yet a date with not dying. But your poem brings home the sullen seriousness of it all.

    A wonderful last two lines, Uma.

  2. Your poetry and the comments combine to tell a very terrible story. I must admit that I don’t see any value in referring to it as the Wuhan Virus. Blaming others doesn’t make the treatment of the problem any easier.

    1. The virus has exacerbated the precipitating darkness and void. It has not just robbed the living of their lives. It has struck at the very roots of humans being humans.

  3. Uma, it was a gift to see your name and the post this morning. Been too long, old friend. Your words are wonderful as always. Many changes for me during these strange years and I am now living in a tiny town in Oregon away from the increasingly madding and maddening crowd. But no one escapes the virus, no matter what. I have been physically okay, but drained, feeling the push and push of all that’s happened everywhere. I have all but given up the blogging and am returning to an email newsletter, personal but with my take on what’s going on. It’s strictly opt in. If you want to be on the list, email me at I look forward to more of your writing.


    1. The pandemic has changed life as we knew it, and it rages on unabated, spewing regrettable events and lasting gloom, adding to the already worsening wasteland.

      Thanks for finding me back, Molly. I will surely write back to you.

  4. Sounds like you too have been bitten (or smitten) by the worm. Hope you have no lingering effects. I’ve gotten 95% of my ability to smell back but it has taken just over a year to do so.
    As for your poem, you captured the experience well…unfortunately. Nice to read your words again. It’s been awhile. Peace.

    1. I am glad you have retrieved your bearings and the lost sense of smell, my friend. I am fine for the moment, but remain fearful of the invisible viral beehives, and future stings.

  5. Uma, it is a joy to have you writing again and wanting to share your words despite their sombre content. These have been dark and difficult times indeed, both globally and personally for so many of us. I pray you and your loved ones are ok, Uma.

    1. Thanks, Sandra, for giving ear to my feeble protests to the gloom that has descended upon the land in general and my soul in particular. Perhaps I will want to write more in time.

  6. I’m so glad to see a poem from you Uma – and such a powerful one. You have captured the fatigue of this virus just not going away, the way that time has seemed to change and turn inside out and the difficulty of trying to find words during this time. I love the last couple of lines.

    1. Yes, this feeling of things turned inside out is so difficult to express —perhaps the last two lines come closest to the helplessness one feels. Your words mean so much: thank you.

  7. I bumped into you today when I was reading ‘Pleasant Street’s blog. You didn’t see me because you had gone already. Last time we met was back in January. How have you been. I know you said you had the dreaded virus. Has it treated you badly? Am I allowed to be concerned from such a distance?

  8. Though I have the benefit of some water having flown since the time you wrote this poem, I am still wondering if anything has changed, though the intensity of the pandemic seems at a low ebb at this point. Did the vaccines help or were we the unwitting victims of a conspiracy hatched by Big Pharma? Did governments force people to take vaccines because they believed it was good for them or did they merely harness the people’s desire for some action, any action, to be taken so that they could believe they were safe? Always questions.

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