by Hilde Weisert

For Bangalore, May 2021

For years all that separated us, or that we’d say,
was “time zones,” a few oceans, and some holidays
that seemed to come all the time, and whose names
we, Stateside, tried not to mangle,

like the names of our colleagues—you, Sudhin,
and Karthik, Madhu, Pritha, Surender.
We were one global team with one company
Culture Code and one goal, perfecting
what we called the “customer experience”—

and so we’ve Zoomed along each wave,
worse here, then there, stay safe, lock down,
open up, breathe—until now, when in our morning
(well, my morning, your dinnertime) call

I learn your wife is achy and feverish, I learn
your building of 72 families locked in but sharing
the same air under every door, through every vent
has 12 affected, and no hospitals, no oxygen,
stark terror I cannot reach through any screen

while, ruddy and buoyant, the people in my town
burst out of their houses, open-faced and joyous—
so over it.

Hilde Weisert‘s day job is at a global technology company where, until recently, it seemed all that separated her from co-workers across the world was time zones, probably very different pay scales (never spoken of), and other things mentioned in “Oceans.” Her poetry collection, The Scheme of Things, was published by David Robert Books in 2015. Her poems have been in magazines including Ms., The Cincinnati Review, The New York Times, Plume, The Cortland Review, Prairie Schooner, The Sun, Southern Poetry Review, Lips, and anthologies including Choice Words (Haymarket Books, 2020) and What They Bring: The Poetry of Migration and Immigration, IP Books, 2020). Her essay, “Randall Jarrell and Adrienne Rich: A Found Guide to Mutual Admiration,” was in Fall 2019 Hudson Review. Awards include the 2017 Gretchen Warren Award (New England Poetry Club), 2016 Tiferet Journal Poetry Award, and others. She is president of the Sandisfield Arts Center in western Massachusetts. Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.

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