Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
—Naomi Shihab Nye, from “Burning the Old Year”
The shouts of the grieving form
a collective wail, a rising lamentation
that stings the eyes, chokes the throat—
the absence of so many loved ones,
locked away for the duration or
buried in haste for fear of the virus.
We miss them, the departed, as we’ve
not missed others; the dissonance
throbs in our chests. Come back!
we plead as we realize there is no
going back. It’s a new world, one
we must remake without them,
one in which we must turn to
each other when we emerge
from isolation, all of us aching,
looking for some place to share
a word, a touch, our love.
Might that be with you?