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Saturday, October 03, 2020


by Alejandro Escudé
The coronavirus builds a far-reaching ladder-like apparatus from core helical amino acids (green) in its spike protein that latch on to its host cell, leading to infection. A computer model is simulating these dynamics on Longhorn, the subsystem of the Frontera supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Credit: Numan Oezguen, Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. —Phys.Org

I’ve been trying to write you, Covid-19.
The suddenness of the tree is more tree-like
after you and yesterday a woman told me
she preferred taking the elevator alone. 
I didn’t look her way when she said that, 
too tired to acknowledge the statement. 
The CDC says that the air is a ladder full 
of virus, but I already knew that, having 
climbed it like Jacob up to heaven and 
having seen the angels traveling up and 
down it wearing white satin masks, six feet 
apart from one another as they pass, the ladder
wide enough to allow for their wingspans.
I tried not to look at their eyes, furrowed
brows like their human counterparts, a bottle
of sanitizer at the base of the shaky steps.
I’ve been trying to write you, Covid-19.
Write you into the day after tomorrow
and write you into yesterday, when I found
myself in an auditorium with teacher
colleagues listening to the priest lead us 
through a mass as the rain fell and no one 
knew the sequestered work that lay ahead, 
how our hands would turn into hearts, 
sweaty, red, pulsing, our minds become 
oceans of solitude. I’ve been trying 
to write you, Covid-19. Letters afloat 
in the air like germs, words freshened 
by fear. If I write fast enough Covid-19, 
I figure maybe I can stay ahead of you 
as you swim the air, aloft, riding our 
anxious breaths, the teeth-life of humor, 
the tongue-bond of our historic griefs.
I’ve been trying to write you, Covid-19,
as you scrape clean our liminal spaces, 
wicked seed, atomic salt pillar, icepick.

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.