Adult and child psychiatrist, private practice
Plaza Psychology & Psychiatry
East Greenwich, RI

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This essay is part of our series, Flattened By the Curve, which features the voices of doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and others on the front lines against COVID-19. For information on how to submit, click here.

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It seems the only way you’ll truly understand

Is for you to drop a tumbler, freshly washed
Let it slip, whoops!
From your hand to the tile floor
And then crush it beneath your heel,
A wedding, you to your pandemic
My beloved is mine and I am my beloved’s
Mine, yours, ours; we are crowned together.

Maybe not your lungs, maybe your neighbor’s,
Your aunt’s, the guy in the car next to you
Who’s driving like an asshole;
Someone will sit in the dark, in a mask
Girl Scouts made for a badge, and see
Your death glittering in black and white.

There’s a tube to put down your throat
That terrifies interns; the sickle shape
Of the laryngoscope haunts dermatologists,
Psychiatrists who understand it is a symbol
And the reality, a weapon against invisible foes
Who are more egalitarian than we are.

Stay home. Stay home, goddamn you,
You gadders, you beach-goers seeking bronze
And melanoma, you nubile adolescents
Beautiful, acned, lonely, you believers
In immortality, in elderberry, in car accidents
And flu; stay home, for you are killing us,
Killing my dearest loves, who take off their rings
And set them on bedside tables, who sing
Into tiny microphones so their children
Will remember them singing a song
From a blockbuster.
Stay home, as if it will snow for a week,
Then ice over, the trees becoming knives;
As if you are waiting for the plumber,
A special delivery that requires your signature
Like a snail’s iridescent slime.

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Daisy Bassen is a poet and physician who graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, The Delmarva Review, The Sow’s Ear, and [PANK] as well as multiple other journals. She was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry and the winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest, the 2019 ILDS White Mice Contest and the 2020 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. She was doubly nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology and for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rhode Island with her family.