I wrote and published this poem in March 2020, nine days after the WHO declared that we were experiencing a pandemic. (We've learned a lot since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but please note that I've refrained from changing the original text.)
It is available below and on my website.
Healthcare Heroes: Answer the Call
The call to war is a cough.
Deployment lasts hour to hour, day to day.
Healthcare professionals since retired
Recommit to their oath to do no harm,
Though by stepping up, they voluntarily put themselves directly in harm’s way.
Their education ensures that they understand the dangers when they hear the proverbial doomsday alarm sound.
They answer the call to work on the front lines of streets thankfully abandoned
By the public they’re working ‘round the clock to save.
Heroes in lab coats and scrubs rather than capes,
They stare not down the barrel of a gun,
But through the lens of a microscope to identify the enemy.
Medically tested swabs make the diagnosis clear.
The strain moved quickly from animal to human,
Then it passed from human to human and multiplied as it caught like wildfire through dry brush,
Burning through our misconceptions, ignorance, and the social parameters we use to define our existence: Wealth, status, clout, and country.
In a time when we’re so convinced that our opinions matter,
Caught in an echo chamber of our own design,
A slippery virus takes hold and officials demand that we stay home to stop the spread.
The paradox? A pandemic that unites us while it threatens to tear us down. The vast majority take action by doing nothing at all.
The planet started to heal in our absence; an unintended — but welcome — consequence.
What a juxtaposition;
The fear inspired by a deadly, invisible force that removes the
Hustle of the every day also serves to remind us of what truly matters.
Phantasmal reflections of others’ mistakes mirrored in policy, red tape, and latent response;
Like the ghosts of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol appearing before us at breakneck speed,
Demanding repentance for the actions we didn’t commit but have no time to repeat.
As they mourn their dead, we are granted an opportunity to stay a step ahead;
A step at most, but a step so many communities wish they could walk back.
Hindsight — 20/20 and crystal clear — comes not in years, but days.
As we muster the courage to keep the faith as we stagger blindly into our new normal,
I am reminded that
Malcolm Gladwell was the first person I heard theorize that Goliath could not rely on his vision,
But in this battle, as David stands at the ready with his slingshot,
David is the one who cannot see; for in this analogy, Goliath is
An invisible monster. A virus that killed the very doctor who bravely sounded the alarm.
They are our heroes in lab coats and scrubs.
Far more vulnerable through their repeated exposure to the enemy than am I,
Sitting in front of my computer screen
Typing a message of thanks
I know they won’t have time to read.
*Please note that I offer an audio version of Healthcare Heroes: Answer the Call on YouTube