Covid or No Covid

by Constance Camille

         For my brother

he said, after agonizing for months over
whether to institutionalize his wife
suffering from dementia.

This mountainous man—And I don’t mean
in stature, in fortitude—this brother of mine,
succumbed to the madness of in-home care,

chaotic days and sleepless nights of pacing,
noise-making—the unforgiving brain erosion—
waiting for yet another shoe to fall.

Wanting to protect her, keep her safe
from the spiraling viral cyclone, not wanting
to deposit her at a foreign door.

It seemed like cruelty to him—
to abandon her in the wake of her darkest hours.

                   [forbidden to see her]

For this is what it felt like—until the realization
he was at the edge of a cliff, rocks crumbling
beneath the one hundred thousand pounds
of steel he carried, and

[she would not know the difference
from her own living room to that of
a memory care common room]

she does not recognize him as the man she loved,
her viral-protector, her care-giver, now only a ghost
who floats in and out of her shell-like existence.

Constance Camille resides in Florida with her two Volpino Italiana furbabies where she writes creative nonfiction and poetry. She received her MFA from the University of Central Florida where she is the book review editor for The Florida Review. Her work has been publishedin Aquifer: The Florida Review OnlineBright Flash Literary ReviewThe Helix MagazineMeat for Tea: The Valley ReviewThe Write Stuff Anthology, and Sundog Lit, where her poem was a finalist in their 2019 Collaborative Contest. When she is not reading book reviews, she is on her patio watching Cardinals and Blue Jays visit her bird feeders. (Twitter: @ConCamWrites.) Liz Baron is an artist and restaurateur who lives in Texas by way of New York City. She and her husband, Jim, founded, own and operate four Mexican-Southwestern restaurants. She got her Bachelor of Fine Art from Pratt Institute but stopped painting when restaurant work and family life consumed most of her time. She is grateful to the online art classes of Sketchbook Skool that helped her regain the joy of a regular art practice.