before/now

before

i can remember the laughter 

and the sound of my friend

calling my name and grabbing my hand 

and pulling me towards the music 

where someone’s playing a song.

i don’t remember the title and can only vaguely

recollect the melody, 

but it was a pretty major chord 

that felt like eating a slice of overly sweetened cake

made for me on my birthday. 

the crowds were loud and we stood in

that park where we’d recently met a man

who wrote us a poem since 

he did poetry on demand and we told him

that i was leaving soon

back to my other home. 

the sun was out.

we spent the entire afternoon outside

and looking at books in a small bookshop.

when i glanced up from my book i didn’t see

a mask but a friendly smile and a face that

didn’t know what was coming. but neither did i.

now 

there’s a bitter taste left on my tongue 

because all these memories seem like a distant

dream that won’t ever happen again. lives were

lost and families separated. my passport hasn’t been 

stamped for the past two years 

and despite video calling and texting 

i haven’t felt the replication of a grandparent’s hug 

in a very, very long time. 

and all i can do is wait and see where the future

will carry me. to be frank, 

i’m a bit tired of the fear and the crying, 

and the terrible, terrible loss––not just of lives

but of what we used to have. 

i want to fall asleep again, and hope that this was all just 

another unfortunate dream. and maybe, just maybe,

we’ll laugh freely once again. 

Writer’s note:

I live in a country where it’s difficult to do much without needing government approval. I’ve already been in school for the month of August, and during one of my music club meetings, we reminisced about the days before Covid-19 began. The longing for what life was like before, which now seems incredibly far away, is what inspired this poem. 

Editors:  Nikki J. Sam L.  Zoe L.

Cover Photo Source: The Honey Combers