“Dispatch from a Pandemic: Chicago” by Allison Liefer

Lake Michigan, Allison Liefer

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sam.coronaearthBefore dawn, dreaming of liturgies mumbled alone,
robin song needles into my sleep.
Is it time yet to hope again? There are dead,
and more dead today. What good are all
my intentions? Who else, now, wakes or sleeps
behind glass and brick on this city block and,
hearing it, wants to pass through the eye
of that bird call? The glass is how
we can see but not touch. The birdsong is like
itself—life driven through muscle and air—
and we are no more than this breath, now. This breath
and this one. Again, this breath—this.


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Allison Liefer lives in Chicago, where she writes, runs, watches Lake Michigan, and works as a non-profit fundraiser. She has recently been grateful for the presumed empathy and real companionship of invisible neighbors and distant friends. This poem is from a series, “Lockdown Diary,” written between March 29 and May 23, 2020 from her Bowmanville apartment.