Image: by Stefano Pollio, licensed under CC 2.0.
A few weeks after my COVID-19 hospitalization in 2021, I had the strength and energy to write. I don’t remember much of my time in the hospital, but I remember every moment of this February day. This poem started out as an essay, but as emotions rose to the point of it affecting my breathing at the time, replacing long sentences with shorter ones, poetic melodies, and scenery made it easier to complete it.
On this day, I was in the ICU, and to avoid negative thoughts, I focused on things that I loved—from outdoor scenery, music, favorite foods, to poetry and calligraphy. In addition, this experience left me to unpack the relationship I had with my body. The day I was cleared to leave the ICU, I promised myself to return to poetry and my art, which I had to pause on towards the end of 2020 to focus more on work and my family. After surviving COVID, I know now that the regret of not finding time for my creativity would have stayed with me had I not survived.
My ICU nurse was amazing. Describing to her who I was as a writer and traveler is my favorite memory, and it humanized me in the hospital room. I found hope because of my nurse, and I believed that I could fight this and return to those joys. Many tears and weeks of recovery later, this poem was born.