You there, woman jumping rope in front of the apartments across the street. I see you.
It looks like it’s been a little while since you’ve done that, which I promise is no judgment from me.
I am here, on the third floor of the brick house, on a creaky exercise bike that had been collecting dust. Can you see me?
I’d cheer you on, open the window, and scream as loud as I could, “YOU GO!” — if I could catch my own breath.
But nobody’s been able to catch a breath for weeks that more and more feel like years.
Remember those bemused smiles we first gave when we started bumping elbows instead of shaking hands?
Then panic-buying toilet paper.
And then, overnight, closed signs on doors of local shops and restaurants, the people who used to work there out of jobs.
Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Stay home.
For a couple of weeks, they said. Maybe months, they said. And now, who knows?
Grieve the lives that were.
You there, little girl, riding your bike up and down the street. I can see your pretty flower helmet through my reflection.
Do you know what’s happening? Do you know that we’ll now keep time in BC and AC — before corona and after corona?
I hope you don’t. Not yet.
I hope the boy from a few houses down, the muffled sound of his basketball bouncing off the deserted street, doesn’t either.
I’ve never thought that ignorance was bliss, but for you, I wish for all the bliss that you deserve.
This — you don’t deserve this. None of us does.
Not the son separated from his elderly father by a thick pane of glass.
Not the mother waiting in desperate anticipation for the test result that might allow her to hug her child again.
Not the friends and families kept apart by six feet of separation that might as well be six million.
Not the nurses and doctors forced to be heroes, again.
Not any of us. Anxious. Overwhelmed. Scared.
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of yearning for normalcy. Listen, it’s coming from behind that window and that door.
The one where you once got your favorite cup of coffee.
The one where you used to visit with the owner of your favorite shop.
The ones where your neighbors live.
Do they miss it? Do they know you miss it, too?
The birds seem to sing so much more loudly these mornings that, for a fleeting moment after another fitful sleep, you think it was a bad dream. You wish. You pray. You cry.
Do you think they know how much we depend on them to sing, to keep singing, so that we can believe that one day soon this will all be over? Our lives waiting like old friends who wondered what held us up.
You there, moss growing on stones, daffodils pushing through dirt, blue skies and fresh air that promise a better tomorrow.
You there, signs of spring and hope, can you see us?
We see you.
I am here, pushing open my porch windows, playing music louder than I usually do.
But these aren’t usual days.
A man walking past hears the music and waves while smiling so wide that I can taste the tears stuck in my throat.
I wave back.