Pandemic Stew

She’d been searching for
the right words or metaphor
to describe
her pandemic experience–
Was it like two sides of the same coin?
(not really)
Was it like living in two worlds?
(not quite)

Maybe it was more
like a pot of simmering stew–
flavors blending, melding
a heaping helping of gratitude
with a reasonable ration of guilt,
and a few too many grievances
for her taste buds’ sweeter liking?

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

“My experience during this pandemic has been many different things,” she began. “It’s been odd.” This woman and her husband were both physicians. She was a hospitalist, and he worked in a clinical setting. They were new parents, and she was grateful for the additional time they got to have at home together as a family since the pandemic began. “That’s the good part,” she said. “The hard part is that I feel guilty for the parts of the pandemic that have been beneficial to our family because I know others are suffering.” She also mentioned that though she lived in Canada, she worked in the U.S. To get to work, she had to cross the border. “It feels like I’m living in two worlds sometimes, but not really,” she said. “As a working mom, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, it also feels like I’m doing more of the behind-the-scenes running of our family. From grocery shopping, to preparing meals, to 4am feedings, to all the other extras unseen, it’s a lot of work. I’m not sure my husband understands.” About mid-way through our conversation, she left for a moment to go “stir a pot,” as she was also meal-prepping as we talked.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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