I’ve got something I wanna get off my chest.
And no,
it’s not acute respiratory failure,
it’s not even an ugly respiratory failure,
it’s a question.
Do you think that the couple that gets together in action movies has the healthiest marriage after the credits roll?
You see I think I might be too cynical,
because a video of quarantined Italians serenading each other from windows and balconies,
their voices a tapestry threaded through with thrilling melody
did not bring me to tears,
nor did it restore my faith in humanity.

Speaking of which,
remember back in the pre-pandemic era,
which was approximately 63.2 years ago,
when websites like Buzzfeed or the
Huffing Post,
would share articles full of impossible
like a doctor fixing the wing of a butterfly,
and title it, “30 Photos that Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity,”
because it was implicitly understood that the combined forces of social media, news, and Twitter would destroy that same faith on a daily basis.
Of course, that’s my cynical side talking,
because I understand the true point is unity, right?
The triumphant nature of the human spirit,
seen in stunning and brave acts of kindness peppered across the globe,
stories spread at the speed of memes,
as we’re all reminded with a swell in our chests of what our best looks like.

It’s like that every day now.
Animal shelters are being flooded with increased adoption applications as isolated souls turn to four-footed friends.
Comedians, musicians, and actors are creating new content and live streaming concerts, all for free.
New York City rooftops echo with the enthusiastic cheers of residents banging pots and pans as they celebrate the sacrificial work of healthcare providers.
Multimillionaire athletes pay the wages of the laid off workers of entire stadiums.
Posh hotels are opening their doors for free to commuting workers in the
healthcare industry.
Drive by birthday parades are now a thing, where friends and family honk and hoot and holler as they zoom by homes firing kindness like bullets.
And in Italy, quarantined residents sing the virus into submission.

Is your faith restored yet?
I gotta admit, even my cynical side can’t help but find these stories inspiring,
as humanity seems to be firing on all
but my mind wanders back to the action movie couple, and their happiness, and how they forged their bond in the fires of danger,
much like us, right now.
But we don’t get to cut to credits.
“There are no atheists in a foxhole,”
the saying goes,
but that doesn’t mean there is a god,
so just because there are no assholes in a pandemic,
just because there’s an insane amount of love and generosity flourishing across the planet,
doesn’t necessarily mean these lessons will carry over.
I guess what I’m saying is that when the world is ending it’s easy to be kind,
but what do we do when the apocalyptic music stops?
Do we keep dancing, holding hands,
belting out songs from rooftops and
Is it cynical to wonder what happens next?
When life becomes boring again?
We are stronger when we are facing something together,
but our enemy won’t always be a destructive virus with an intoxicating name.
He’ll instead be called apathy.
Or bad traffic.
Or bills.
Or family.

I have no doubt that when this is over,
we will swarm restaurants and bars and shopping centers,
we will kiss the toilet paper before it ever touches our butts,
we will smile at the sun as it shines on throngs of people at concerts and parks
and bars…
…for a little while at least.
But then what?
What do we look like when a virus isn’t
holding a gun to our heads?
In normalcy?
I hope
that we’re all still this beautiful to each other.

Brandon Sullivan first performed this poem at the Drewboy Creative "Something Hopeful Please" virtual art show.

He is a writer-barista who manages the social media for the Tri-Cities spoken word poetry group, Plan B Poetry. He loves sci-fi, dogs, Jesus, and his wife. Not necessarily in that order.

Photo by Kamile Leo on Unsplash