Love In A Time Of Covid-19

By Craig Santos Perez

a variant of Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII
I don’t love you as if you were penicillin,
insulin, or chemotherapy drugs that treat cancer,
I love you as one loves the sickest patient:
terminally, between the diagnosis and the death.

I love you as one loves new vaccines frozen
within the lab, poised to stimulate our antibodies,
and thanks to your love, the immunity that protects
me from disease will respond strongly in my cells.

I love you without knowing how or when this pandemic
will end. I love you carefully, with double masking.
I love you like this because we can’t quarantine

forever in the shelter of social distancing,
so close that your viral load is mine,
so close that your curve rises with my cough.

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