Elizabeth Elliott is a storyteller. Writing is the one time she knows she can hear herself within the chaos of the world. These poems reflect on the disruption and reality of COVID-19. As a queer woman of color, she hopes these poems connect with others.
The question Ringing in my ears Where is that sound coming from? The siren blurring in my mind. I’ve missed alarms. Slept through them Unaware and incorporating Them into my dreams Only until my head ached From the sound Awakening me out of danger. Merging two worlds Half-awake and half-asleep Maybe this is why I slept through my first alarm For the first day of kindergarten Arriving late, unable to break the mirage. Older and more used to the Rhythmic beatings. The sound shattering one world For me to enter another. No longer evading reality. My body embracing comings and goings Traveling between states of mind. The moment time stopped. I existed only on autopilot Unable to process the beeps In my ears. Instead, I was caught up. The beating of my chest, Quickened unable to slow down. I was left wondering how silence could be so loud. COVID-19 leaving me to question Where is that sound coming from? The mirage was the reality I am awakening for the first time Still holding the ringing in my ears While the alarm has been turned off. Only now processing the ghost of change. I’ve missed alarms. Slept through them Until they have turned off Freed to dream and yet lost time. Hoped that in waiting Pressing a snooze Things would go back to normal Forgetting you cannot turn back the clock You only lose time heading back to sleep Having to hurry faster Once you wake. I’ve missed alarms.
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Love has arrived—from afar— Eyelids fluttered slowly open To the lag in the Zoom call The lips smile taking a while The Hand forgetting reaches out To the white glow of the untouchable It questions time—the past now seems Too late—a missed anecdote to pain Six feet apart is wanting to take her hand The nerves stiffen at the thought Of touch—the burn of alcohol Much too soon afterwards—If— The Skin could feel the warmth of her Though our gloves—precautions— Escaping the poison of unquarantined— Possibilities—A fleeting thought unobtained Love has arrived—a tiny smile held Under covered lips. Love, I am just Waiting, admiring from afar what 1024 by 798 Pixels fail to materialize—your beauty.
Rooted in nothing, but belonging on a shelf. You notice the curvatures and branching of the green leaves Like an outstretched hand yearning for more. Pink pops and light orange hides at the end of the fingertips. The changing hues and shades, a reminder of life. A growing body needing water to extend their arms and legs To outgrow the small pot. Growing they move from the shelf Out to your desk. It is putting down roots Making you clear space on your desk. You’ve been sitting detached at the desk, all but wilting away. This is not your normal, But has become your reality, staying inside Ruminating where your past, present, and future lie. How once budding leaves turned bright green then To amber, orange, red, and brown. You focus your energy on the plant Which has grown from your care. The plant reminds you roots are possible. It is the first time you’ve noticed the growth The expansion of the once hand-sized plant. It is no longer miniature, as you sit in front of it Now day after day—inside. The plant you got for décor Now a reminder that you are alive.