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The Virus

By Avah Dodson, 11

As I lie in bed I can hear
Mom sobbing into Dad’s arms.
They’re dying. What are we going to do?
Who? I wonder as I drift off. No one I know.

I wake up to rustling, like a lost mouse
Scurrying from an invisible threat.
Dad is getting up early to go to the store.
But why, I ask,
Why can’t we go to Starbucks
Like we always do?
I have to shop early, he replies,
Or everything will be out.
Get a donut for me, I call.

He returns with bags stuffed with
Slightly old strawberries,
Capers, organic eggs, soymilk,
But no donut.

My school classes start—awkward, virtual classes—
But at least I get to see my friends
On the blinking screen.
Upstairs, my brother in his online class,
Dad tapping on his laptop downstairs,
Mom emailing on her phone in the kitchen,
We are like bees, trapped in their own hive.
Our WIFI glitches, overloaded.

I have to get out of the house, Mom says.
She and Dad take a half bottle of
French wine from the cellar.
Going for a walk, they say,
We’ll be back soon.
When they come back,
The bottle is empty.

My forehead is 99.8. Mom buys medicine.
Just to be safe, she says,
As if she weren’t buying it
To remind herself
That we have free shipping
And Amazon Prime.

Mom whispers to Dad but I can hear.
She helps refugees and Holocaust survivors.
Today someone called her, desperate for help.
His disabled daughter was alone, homebound.
A few hours ago she opened
Her last can of beans.
We couldn’t help her, Mom whispers.

I lie in bed.
Our symptoms from this pandemic are mild,
Immunized by our privilege.
Who is dying?
Many. Millions.
I lie awake.




Avah Dodson, 11
Lafayette, CA

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