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Pandemic Mercy

By Carmen Calatayud

We seek mercy and not
~Gris Muñoz

We lived to ride the sun
like a carousel, never knowing
when we would fall off.

Tonight we seek solace in stars,
trust we’ll see them despite the fog of illness
after the hospital turned you away.

I claw your chest open
to let moonlight into your lungs,
watch alveoli crawl across the stage
beneath your ribs.
It’s still a beautiful show.

Hum to myself as I wait for you
to breathe a recognizable rhythm.


Melancholy the heat of fever
Melancholy the bark of the towering palm
Melancholy the souls who asked us to turn around hundreds of years ago.

This nation loves money,
ignores body counts.
We have slept with damage since our beginning.

The dead spin in the sky
fly above suffering, whisper don’t refuse me now
after sun busts the horizon.

You create a gurgling sigh
and I know that even with hope in this kind of country,
we are on our own.

There are no working wings.
Just wandering for mercy.


Poem originally published by Headline Poetry & Press

Carmen Calatayud is the daughter of a Spanish immigrant father and Irish immigrant mother. Her book In the Company of Spirits (Press 53) was a runner-up for the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award and a finalist for the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize.