“Dispatch from a Pandemic: Oslo/my head” by Bogusia Wardein

Untitled, José de Almada Negreiros

To me it is a gift. I remember Aunt Wanda who feared her math exam which she was to retake on the 1st of September 1939, but did not have to.

corona samTwo days before the announcement of the stay-home order in Norway I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. For weeks I could hear my adrenal glands squeaking like piglets, begging me to slow down.

I have been chronically ill for several years and have spent most of my time at home, in my own company. Being alone and living in my head for years has prepared me for this.

I feel like a leg amputee in a hurdle race competing with athletes emanating strength and bubbling with energy.

bogusia apple
This photo and those below by the author

Due to my illness I have over the years become sluggish in whatever I do, be it peeling veggies or replying to emails. It once took me seven years to answer a letter. That is how I have been missing deadlines, chances and opportunities one after another.

Not having to go anywhere is a relief for me, a blessing, an opportunity to find balance between resting and catching up.

Anemones in the forest 2

This is like a writer’s residency I have never been to, where I do not meet other writers for obligatory dinners at 7pm. On a good day I am able to write for forty minutes, taking long breaks between the three or four writing sessions. Sometimes I only scribble a few lines in the diary.

I also mourn for my father who died two years ago. For the first time I can cry, sob, curse, shout, hit tree trunks in the forest with a stick and shout again. If I come across someone I make sure I am the first to ask about the screams.

bogu stream

Today I am grateful for the running water, three meals a day, my bed, my brain, my hands, the scent of roasted pumpkin seeds, the first butterfly this spring, the unfurling ferns, the carpets of white anemones, the whisper of the stream, the primeval forest at the end of my street, the apple trees I can see from my window.

In astronomy Corona denotes a small circle of light seen around the sun or moon. I want to change to experience more light. Perhaps the crisis will last as long as it takes me and everyone else to transform. What can I do to become a better human being? 

–April 20, 2020



Bogusia Wardein is a Polish poet based in Oslo. Her first
published poem was nominated for the Forward Prize in 2013. Since then her work has appeared in various magazines, including The Rialto, Poetry Wales, Stand, THE SHOp, The Irish Times as well as the anthologies Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe, 2015) and Writing Home (Dedalus Press, 2019). She probably spends three-thirds of her life in pyjamas.