C19-A poem in the time of Corona

Tonight in the poetry salon I read a new poem I wrote in response to the crisis we are in. It was a poem which came to me, and through me, bringing tears and a sense of witnessing. I was asked to share the poem more publicly, and so, here is a reading and the text. I offer it out that it may bring some accompaniment to those who have lost loved ones. May we treasure the gifts of their memory.

Thank you, with love. Clare. x

C19- A Poem in the time of Corona


Every night the numbers are named.
Eighty four.
Thirteen thousands, two hundred and seventy one.
Four hundred and eighty six.
Seven hundred and twenty four.
Over two million.
Median Age. Notified. Transmissions. Clusters. Deaths.

Somedays I almost mistake it as a game of bingo, or possibly
roulette. Until the Chief Medical Officer, whose steady and consistent voice
has become a kind of reassurance, remembers to say the necessary word:

To the grandmother, to the grandfather, to the lover, to the best friend,
to the woman who loved to knit teddybears for the children in the hospital,
to the nurse about to give birth, to the soldier with the polished war medals,
to the school teacher with extra gold stars for the child who made the most effort,
to the novelist who was not quiet yet there, to the cartographer who had many more
elegant maps to draw, to the cook with the secret ingredient, to the doctor with the
special touch, to the gardener who coaxed even the stubborn corners into bloom,
to the brother who had just given up the chip on his shoulder, to the neighbour
who always checked in, to the bus driver who knew the city like the lines on the back of his
hand, to the refugee who had just found a home, to the single mother who had
saved everything to put her daughter through college, to the migrant who posted letters
home with the simple words, ‘I love you, I’ll be back soon’, to the bingo caller who
always remembered that behind every number is a winning smile, full house,
a game of chance.

‘Condolences’, the Chief Medical Officer says, and across the airways,
the people count to ten and hold their beloved in their breath.
Tomorrow, we are the ones who get to live another day,
so we can name the dead by their gifts, and live then onwards
with the days we are still lucky enough to count.


Clare Mulvany

16 April, 2020
West Cork,