Virtually Nonexistent

You open your eyes like any other day,
And you heard about the disease
Off in another world and you feel
A distant sort of sadness because
You know the news of people dying
Is all very sad, but I’ve said it all before;
Other people’s deaths are theoretical.

So let’s dispense of the general “you,”
Let’s make it all a bit more personal.

I turned off my alarm and checked my phone,
Because I’m twenty-six and in university
And it’s the role society has given me,
But today (March 1rst) the news tell me that there are
Fifteen confirmed cases of the virus in Madrid.

There’s 6.5 million people in Madrid though,
Fifteen sick but ultimately alive people
Isn’t cause for pandemonium, look at China,
Look at Italy, it’s not so bad here, is it?

(How many people do you have to infect
To take down an entire village? One.
So fifteen people to shut down a city
Is fourteen more than you actually need.)

Day 2. The cases double.
Day 3. The cases double.
Day 4. Well, at least they didn’t double.
Day 5. The first person dies in Madrid.
And all of a sudden, I feel it in my bones,
Not a worry for myself, that’s not my style,
And it’s not even really a worry
Because I know, I know, the chance
Of my grandparents being infected
Is still so small, virtually nonexistent.

I know my grandparents will be alright…probably,
I know my friends could fight off the disease…most of them,
I know the chance of my teachers dying…low,
And I know the chance of my students dying…even lower.


Virtually nonexistent,
Improbably, unlikely,
What do those words even mean?

What was the chance
Of me being born five weeks early
The day before my birthday?
What was the chance
Of my mom dying at 53
The day before she did?
What was the chance
Of my grandmother having vasculitis,
The day before she was diagnosed?

Give me a crystal ball not statistics,
Because you don’t know where lightning will strike,
I’m worried because I know life is random,
I’m worried because the 213 people in Madrid that are
Dead right now had an even lower probability of dying,
I’m worried because it’s not crazy to be worried.

I don’t give a fuck about toilet paper,
And my university and work closing
Is concerning but not life-altering,
I know the world will start turning again,
And the population will be more or less the same,
We’ll hear anecdotes about people in the ICU
And give condolences to those people
Who don’t have happy endings to share,
We’ll applaud the doctors that saved lives,
And reward the scientists who create a vaccine
By cutting their funding a few month later than we planned to.

The world won’t care about COVID-19 in 2022,
But…it’s not 2022 yet, and I don’t know what
My life will look like when it comes,
Just that the chance that it’ll be any different is
Virtually nonexistent.

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