Poetry Helps Re-Write the Pandemic by Hazel Fry

My cursor glides over monotonous grey squares, each marked like a tombstone commemorating a missing face with a name my tongue never had to learn to pronounce, names the memory compartment of my brain has never registered with a face. I click the irritating red button at the bottom right of my screen. “Leave meeting.” Then a more prominent “leave meeting” button appears, as if Zoom doesn’t understand that the so-called class is over and I am ready to leave. I click it.

I click it every morning at 9:55, again at 10:55, and again at 11:55. Then I click “leave meeting” at 2 pm, and some days at 12:44. I was eager for high school, the dramatic wonderland almost every teenage movie is about. Eager to be the awkward new kid who makes unlikely friends, who trips and drops my books in front of my crush’s locker, and breaks into song un-ironically like they do in the movies. I was eager to sit in the Creative Writing classroom and be able to bump knees with whoever was sitting next to me. I was more than ready to leave behind the friendship “cliques” in middle school. But high school so far has been me sitting alone in my room surrounded only by computer “clicks.” My dad comes home late afternoon from a job where people can’t mute themselves when they’re bored of talking to him, or vanish into a grey square when they realize there’s food on their lip. I’m jealous of the luxury of conversations. 

Creative Writing is the only environment where I am able to have full conversations without random mid-sentence-muting. The community is close knit, and Heather leaves room for the freshman to get to know the people in the rest of the department. Being surrounded by all these incredible writers that I am envious of, has motivated me to write more and explore my creativity. Phrases I hear, insignificant interactions, one footed pigeons on the sidewalk, poetry I read, and major events in my life inspire me to write. One would think that the person deeply inspired by one footed pigeons must feel inspiration to write about the pandemic. One would be wrong. Starting my freshman year of high school sitting on the wooden kitchen chair that I moved into my room, in my house, is beginning to feel more real than I would like it to. The day ending by closing the Zoom tab on my computer, and clicking on the “Google Classroom” tab to begin homework from the same neck straining position I’ve sat in all day is beginning to feel more real than I would like it to. The simple, usual notion of my parents asking “How was school today?” sending me into tears every time is beginning to feel more real than I would like it to. 

Writing poetry allows me to escape into the unreal. Poetry is much too beautiful an art to be insulted with my worry that my family will get sick every time they leave the apartment, and my fear that I could kill my own grandparents by laughing with them, by hugging them. So, when I write, the pandemic feels like a short story I began but didn’t like and decided to rewrite.

Hazel Fry (Class of ’24)

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