Pandemic Poem #2: Singing Happy Birthday Alone

Life might get back to normal, but I don’t know when.
I’m trying to work. I’d rather nap. I just wash
my hands and sing happy birthday again and again

and watch my hands dry out. Here’s another concern:
if I don’t strive hard right now, really push,
my life will never, ever be normal again.

Pandemic, panic, politics. Alliteration is not our friend.
While I wait for everything online to crash,
I decide to wash my hands and sing happy birthday again.

I want to be a superspreader. I want people to die. I want
to die. I’m not as shocked as I should be by my awful thoughts.
“Things will get back to normal.” Can you tell me when?

I’m grateful for root vegetables and food in cans.
My hero potatoes: fry, roast, boil, mash.
Will we ever sing happy birthday at a party again?

How soon we have to cook over open fire depends
on how well the grid holds up. Such a specific wish.
Life might get back to normal, but I don’t know when.
I’m singing happy birthday all alone again.

4 responses to “Pandemic Poem #2: Singing Happy Birthday Alone

  1. Happy birthday to you, Marnie!
    I fear “normal” is only a statistical term; we used it to describe something that never existed, experiential, for a long time.
    My grandmother, who ‘raised’ me, would say, in Casper action, “Why can’t you just be NORMAL?!?!?”
    She seemed to mean something by it. It didn’t occur to her that I had no idea, and still don’t.

  2. Oops – ”Casper action” is a typo for “exasperation”!

  3. I really like this poem, so raw and ravaging, like the effect of washing my hands so much at the beginning of the pandemic. Beautiful use of the Villanelle form, each refrain becomes more and more powerful as the poem evolves.

    DSC #FoDiByLi

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