I live in Tucson, Arizona and have been lucky to have remained healthy, employed and not too isolated this past year. I work in healthcare which has exposed me, not necessarily to the virus, but to many pandemic stories. They need to be written down.
Physicians dictate their notes into patients’ electronic healthcare records. Sometimes the transcripts have bizarre autocorrects that are wonderful prompts for poems. Mostly, in this time of Covid, the results are recurring, factual, detailed, day-by-day accounts of tragedy. The software template contains many repetitive headers that when grouped together seem to have a chant like quality. Using the process of erasure, I narrowed down and combined the experience of a handful of patients into these poems. I printed out progress notes, erased all identifying features, and found words that came together into a progression of fate. I then shredded the original material.
The individuals who share their fate with so many remain completely anonymous and their dignity is respected.