Ventilators in Demand

(they) don’t want
    mass panic
snakes for your ankles snakes for your (body)
                  everyone maybe gets their own

(air pumps a constant song beside a hospital bed where there’s always a woman who sits with
nothing but her skin, her lonely hair)

we’re pumped with words and video
                                  insects in our ears       around our eyes
our tiny hands try to swat     what can’t be destroyed

suffering is colorless and baffled
the point systems of life           square and rigid

(emotional ethics move across the pilgrimage of day after day into nights solid with thick
touches, coughs like sneezes to count)

this becomes a game           to stay
                      alive    as the crows    in the 5 o’clock trees

(we cannot fly away from the Earth, she cradles us and we hold rain sticks towards death,
laughter becomes a footprint in disguise)

can I buy what I need       on tinder       with my looks
a good hair day could save your life
                                dance still for the children to be

my sons are young
they still believe
            in good
                                I don’t let on
about truth and blood running stalemate in a decision
to end a life

Click here to read Sarah Lilius on the origin of the poem.

Image: “Crow Tree” by TraumTeufel666, licensed under CC 2.0.

Sarah Lilius: I wrote “Ventilators in Demand” fairly early during the COVID-19 pandemic. People were contracting the virus and dying from it at alarming rates. I heard on the news about the system of who gets a ventilator that doctors were to use if the situation became even more dire. I thought about how frightening and tragic that would be to everyone involved. This poem came from my musings on that situation. I made the form somewhat experimental and fragmented because that’s how the pandemic feels. The unknown is a feeling we can either sit with or try to express however we see fit.

Sarah Lilius
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