From University Hospital in Waterford, Ireland, Alex Hayes of the staff sent us a poem he wrote in the midst of the virus crisis. We know Alex from the anthology Atlantic Currents: Connecting Cork and Lowell, just published this month. He has several poems in the collection. A graduate of University College Cork with honors in English and Philosophy, he won UCC’s Patricia Coughlan Award for his writing in 2017. We look forward to featuring him in the future on this blog.–PM
by Alex Hayes
I believe that, in these times, within four walls,
Each of us will face a choice: to quiver,
bemoan, lament, and rage, made sightless slaves
to amygdala and tribalism,
Or to find that furtive place within us,
where dwells the mystic chords of memory,
binding each of us to the greater whole.
I believe that, in these times, when choice is made,
Each of us will come to know the truth of
who we really are, what we are willing
to sacrifice for others, no matter
their skin colour, homeland, status, or creed.
I believe that, in these times, like times before,
We will endure, aid, survive, and yet thrive,
That this malady, this new crowned disease,
will not end us, just as black death did not
end us, just as we did not end ourselves
when we learned to split the atom itself.
I believe that, in these times, sheer bravery
will conquer fear, that love for each other,
in great tidal crash, will drown the hatred,
that defines so much of the worst demons
of our nature. The demons that maim the
genitals of little girls and that drive
lost men to split open skulls in the name
of their god.
I believe that, in these times, not the starlet,
not the footballer, influencer or
the banker will be our heroes, but those,
the warriors on the frontline of the
war against this unseen enemy: the
nurses, doctors, midwives, and the porters,
the security guards blocking corridors,
the cleaners cleaning garbed in PPE,
and the patients themselves who brave terror,
to come in for the sake of their baby,
those who risk their lives are owed that title.
I believe, in these times, above all else
—Alex Hayes, Outpatients Dept., University Hospital, Waterford, Ireland (March 2020)