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Life in the Time of Corona

Ghost of COVID-19

Katherine Nelson-Born

Katherine Nelson-Born, writer and editor, grew up in New Orleans, the setting for her soon-to-be-published debut YA novel, Before the Thunder. Read her novel’s award-winning introductory chapter excerpt in the 2020 Seven Hills Review on or find more poems in her 2016 Finishing Line Press chapbook, When Mockingbirds Sing.

I thought my house haunted once,

heavy sighs on a winter’s night

waking me. Now, the death count

rises like waters lapping up land.

Smell of bleach assaults my senses daily.

I cannot touch myself—or you—

my love an infection.

Singed by spring sunshine,

my face burns above

the mask that does not stop

the march of COVID-19.

New ghosts appear in the moon’s glow,

angry moans drifting across the breeze--

“And still you worship at the altar of greed.”

A shroud replaces the mask.

I did not save you from the virus let loose

in vanished jungles, set free

to cross overheated seas,

infecting millions more.

Like Lady Macbeth,

I cannot wash my hands enough

to cleanse my house of its specters.

At midnight’s chime, tortured spirits

lean in. Pinpricked,

my fingertip blooms too late

the antibodies that could have saved you.

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