When the Media Say Health Care Workers Are on the Front Lines in the Battle Against COVID-19

by Matt Hohner

         for Antoinette Antetomaso

I think of my grandmother, a nurse
in a U.S. field hospital in Europe
in WWII. She would remind us
every conflagration is absorbed in
injury by people, suffered by scarred
survivors and uncountable dead. She
steely green eyes, teach us the difference
between fighters and fixers, that health
care workers wait behind the front lines to
receive us with medicine and grace in our
most graceless hours. She would show us
with hands that bathed wrist-deep in chests
of shredded men that we are the soldiers
in this most personal of battles, our bodies
the front lines of a war against an unseeable
foe, silent invader of lungs and throats, that
we expose ourselves to a crossfire hurricane
of infected breath and touched surfaces each
time we venture out, that our homes are bunkers
against the spread. She would tell us to hunker
down and wait for a needle of mercy in the arm,
a cease-fire of safety signed with a syringe, for
church bells and sirens to herald the all-clear.

Matt Hohner, a Baltimore native, is a local, national, and international award-winning poet, and has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. An editor for Loch Raven Review, Hohner’s book Thresholds and Other Poems, his first full-length book, was published by Apprentice House Press in Fall 2018. Hohner has held a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, made possible by a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. He was recently awarded second place in the 2021 Fish Publishing International Poetry Contest in Ireland. His second collection of poetry will be published by Salmon Poetry in 2023. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

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