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Thoughts

POEM: ‘To Ma’

on losing a loved one to COVID-19, half a world away

Sandeep Basu |

Healthcare workers in the Indian state of Kerala wear personal protective gear to care for COVID-19 patients. (Source: xxx)
Healthcare workers in the Indian state of Kerala wear personal protective gear to care for COVID-19 patients. (Photo by Javed Anees)

When the first stealthy forays of the enemy dulled your taste and stole your appetite,
I was not there

When the sinews lost their strength, and you could not lift your head from the pillow …
I was not there

When the virus shed its cloak and rained hellfire that scorched your lungs, you whispered  ...  “I can’t breathe” …
I was not there

When the limbs turned cold and the lips turned blue and the pulse ground to a halt ... when your partner for almost sixty years held you himself alone, bewildered, silent, unmoving ...
I was not there

When they took you away wrapped in a sheet like so much deadwood, burnt in a field  ...
I was not there

now I want to hear you say just one more time  ... “my son” … you will never be there.


India reported 369,957 new COVID-19 cases and 3,455 deaths as of 11:30pm on May 2, 2021. One of the dead was the author’s mother. The author, Sandeep Basu, is an oncologist in Eau Claire.