Nineteen thirteen


Nineteen thirteen
Year of the Spanish Flu
Nineteen, thirteen
It’s not me, but could it be you?

Two kids, one old enough to vote
Old enough to breathe
Too young to choke

Dying alone, in an achingly busy hospital
Surrounded by white coats, masks
And the crackle of plastic aprons

Nineteen, thirteen
Youngest so far

They said it wasn’t serious
And that our immune systems could take the hit
They said we’d get a cough
A temperature
And recover

They said it would be the old ones
The nursing homes, those with pre-existing conditions
Asthma, breathing difficulties
Those complex individuals
On the edge of society
No less a tragedy for that

No-one told us that our kids might die
Snuffed out like fireworks, still burning bright
Still crying loud, flying into the dark night

They told us to hashtag stayhome
They told us to teach our kids
They said it might be fun
They told us to clap for our carers
They told us to queue in line
They never said
They never said
You know, your kids?
The ones you love, more than life itself
They never said
They could be dead
In a week.

One Response Subscribe to comments

  1. Amanda Harris

    Wow Ella, that is raw. Thank you for posting and airing all of our fears. The irony of your poem is that the ‘Spanish’ flu epidemic claimed more people aged 20-40 because their healthy immune systems went into overdrive …

    Apr 15, 2020 @ 2:41 pm