Pain in the Time of Covid

by Monica Shah

You stay indoors most days, locked away in your beige
suburban house. Friends are virtual – you know this.

Your mask protected others from your panic but not you
from pain. No virus needed to turn your body against you.

When they say only the elderly and chronically ill are at risk,
they mean you. You start most mornings with belly breaths

and pranayama, heat and ice, a slice of lemon. You know too
how to order groceries online, watch movies alone, attend meetings

from home, do without from within. You learned to wear a mask
long ago. Years before the quarantine, when you started

turning away from people, this was already your life.
Everyone wondered if there had been an accident or fall or sickness –

something, anything, to assign reason or blame. When they decide
who to stop treating first, you are part of the equation. Its been

twelve weeks since you went to the gym, six since you shopped
in a store, two since you walked to your mailbox in shoes, but only

a day since you saw a doctor. Perhaps it was a virus back then too,
its prehistoric RNA invading your body, efficiently commandeering

fragments of your cells, coopting your immune system.
Does it really matter how? This was not supposed to be your life.

Monica Shah was born in London and grew up in various small towns in the UK, Africa, India, and America. An educator, her writing often explores the intersection of identity, culture, and society.  Monica’s poetry has appeared in several literary publicationsincluding Three Drops from a Cauldron, Edison Literary Review, Unlost, Kaleidoscope, Muse, and in the anthologies Bolo Bolo and Celestial Musings. K. Nizar, a multi-disciplinary artist from Kerala’s Kozhikode, who began his career on movie-sets doing art works before becoming a visualization artist for a leading newspaper in Kerala.