Coronavirus XXXIX (the nurse)

Spaced like statues on
the grounds of a closed museum,
we soak up the sun.

The future is bleak.
People are dropping like flies
from the new virus.

One guy, with ripped abs,
buff pecs, and tight buns jumps rope.
It’s hard not to watch.

More beautiful the
masked nurse who rises slowly
and goes back to work.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

One thought on “Coronavirus XXXIX (the nurse)”

  1. this poem traces an arc of beauty uin the everyday radaint. The reader starts with the image unfolding of the poet and some opther peopel like statues, a formal (aeshetic?) portrayal of beauty which quickly comes alive in the huumorous yet poignant image of the muscleman skipping rope. beauty si given weight by the reflection on finitude, the dpidemic cutting short people’s klives. The idiomatic expression ‘droppping like flies’ gives the reader the sense both fo teh everyday casual nature of death and the intimacy of the poem’s vision. So when the reader moves from teh muscle-man skipping rope to ‘more beautiful’ we are prepared for an image at once down to earth and significant, the masked nurse who is more beautiful, in her down-to-erth reality, the mask both a barrier to our knowing her face and to the virus. She is excessive and exceeding in her radiance. This excess flwos from her bring grounded, her particualrity, as she returns to the dangerous delicate calling of bring as nurse, her work.


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