Tell me I’m Dreaming
Tell me I'm Dreaming
I. The colors or “stars” that you see
When you rub your eyes have a name;
They are phosphenes.
You see them a few seconds
and then the next they disappear
when you open your eyes.
The first sign of change
Was a tidal wave rushing over,
And we tried to close our eyes to
The closures and cancellations
Of everything. Waiting
For them to be rescheduled.
The first of many racist comments
At you, friends or loved ones
Or you might be the one directing hate.
You all long for things to go back.
To open your eyes and wake up
To find this was all just a bad
Dream instead of a nightmare.
This is a reality we just can’t shake
When did you rub your eyes?
and ask yourself if this was real.
That this is not just a moment
Or are you still closing your eyes?
Denying the truth of the mask
On your face. The echoing of
Mask up and stay six feet apart
Heard everywhere. Stay safe
Becoming a haunting sound.
This is not “normal”
with so many more changes
But this is our reality.
Nothing is the same anymore
But not everything is lost
I tell myself. Fear, worry, doubt flee
When I think about her.
And to wait for an end is sleepless
Nights unready for the daytime.
II. Love in the time of Corona
Is disorienting. It’s feeling freed
From the same slow rhythms of
Each day. It’s picking up the phone
And texting her. It’s late night
zoom calls until the early hours
of the morning saying good morning
instead of goodnight. Then barely having
the energy to close my laptop and curl
into bed but still holding her smile
in your mind as I hit the pillow.
When either of us froze on screen
It was a half-blink mid-sentence state.
A half-terror and half-amusement
From the screen freeze. Frantic
Was it my internet or hers?
Waiting for any reconnection
And then picking up where we left off.
It’s missing small inflections
the signs or sharp intake of air,
the wink of an eye, half-closed eyes.
In some of the hardest moments
I’ve watched her cry unable to be there
to hold and console her and
it’s crying wishing she were there with me.
I want to reach out and touch her
but I can’t across the screen.
Safety is staying six feet apart.
We could only imagine the warmth
Of each other’s touch because we had
Families to think about. Neither of us
would risk what we can’t control so
from hundreds to only a dozen miles away
I still could only capture kisses over call in my hands
Instead of on my lips.
I direct my eyes to the sky waiting for
The forced space between her and me to disappear
Without even holding her hand
I know her so well and it’s disorienting.
I close my eyes against the bright sky
And I know I’m not dreaming.
The poem “Tell me I’m Dreaming” is first and foremost about COVID-19 and understanding what has happened to us as a society. The first half of the poem is about realizing the inability to escape these changes for the foreseeable future and being angry, hurt, and frustrated. We have lost so much to COVID-19—normalcy, the lives of so many, and the simple connection of touch—it seems like we should be waking up from a dream instead of realizing this is our reality and trying to adapt. In the second half of my poem I focused on my romantic relationship where I want to remember there are things that can’t be delayed or stopped because of COVID-19. I started dating my girlfriend during COVID-19 and I wanted to write about navigating it together but also separately.
I was inspired by the short mini-series “Love in the Time of Corona” which is one of the only shows that I’ve seen that is set in the pandemic. I felt the show was limiting, I wanted more to explain my own situation so here I strived to write a poem about my own experience of COVID-19 and falling for someone. I found joy but also sorrow in the underlining limitations and I hope to have showed the complexity of physical and emotional risk. There are some things COVID-19 cannot change and the feeling of love is only one of them.
Studying Biology and Women’s and Gender Studies