From the Anthology 

Pandemic Writing

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity," wrote T.S. Eliot. To help make productive use of our self-isolation and social distancing, Lit Cleveland is offering free writing challenges each week via our newsletter. The following piece is a response to the "How To" prompt.

How to Navigate a Pandemic

by Marci Rich

There is no fastest route

the trip will take as long as it will take

but here you’re in luck

there is no traffic

           on your sidewalk

           on your drive

           on your front porch

           on your back patio

           or your lawn, marked

           by hyacinths,

           their waxen ivory trumpets

           a multitude of heralds

           that fought

           and broke


           to the warmth

           of the April sun.


           enter the doors

           leading inside


follow the path  

from room

to room to room

take any exit

           from one room to another room

to another

take the only exit

back to the garden

where grow

the Lenten Roses

the hellebores—


first syllable

for such a lovely plant—

painfully lovely,

dusky-rose petals

and blood-red stems,

a Good Friday color.

Another flash of red dashes

across the pines—the cardinal

flies towards his mate, then

waits while you

enter the door

                       to the kitchen

to tend the soup:

           skim the bony foam from the broth—

           color of marrow—

sprinkle the peppercorns,

the cleansing parsley,

the charming onions

hum to the soft sounds

of dinner cooking.

You may merge

onto the path

for a walk,

to breathe through

your mask for the sake

of breathing, to feel

the sun for what it is—

warmth and light and irony.

To watch the wind

sway the branches

of the Bartlett pear tree,

their buds

hopeful against the impossible

blue of the sky.

Dress yourself. Or not.

Read a book. Or not.

Study the pantry shelves

like a poem filled

with mysteries

until you have arrived.