by Rita McNamara, 04/06/2020, Manton, Mi

Adult Category

What the hell is going on here? Canada, with half our population, has tested more than three times the number of people we have. South Korea, seven times the testing. My sister works as a lab tech at a large hospital just north of Detroit. The place is like a war zone, she says, and none of the staff have been tested. When she asks about that she gets vague dodgy answers. Last week the CDC told them that if they don’t have enough face masks, staff should just wrap a scarf around their faces. The Italians stand out on their balconies and sing, sometimes with the dead body of a mother or a sister lying in the apartment behind them because the authorities can’t pick up the corpses fast enough, while gun sales skyrocket here and people hoard hand cleaner and toilet paper. As I write, Bob Dylan is singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” on the radio in the background and I rage. There’s only so much the human mind can take.

When this is over, in six months, in a year, when all the bodies are buried and the stores are open, I wonder what we will have learned. That the phrase “broken government” is not just a couple of empty words? That swaggering bluster and anti-science ideology can kill people? That all the guns, bullets, and toilet paper in the world may not save your life? Or will we step out onto the sidewalk, notice the trees as if for the first time, and know that down here on the big blue ball borders and walls mean nothing? We all breathe the same air.

Rita J. McNamara