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As a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, I’ve been listening to my clients’ reactions, as well as those of my family and friends, to the first couple of months of the COVID-19 crisis. Universally, people have been reacting to the “surreal” nature of this shared trauma. The world is on pause, and the anxiety of not knowing when, or if, one’s familiar life will return has caused sleep difficulties for many, which I’ve written about in the following poem:

Nerve Nights

By Michele Reed

Hours of little sleep,
worries nagging
the tired mind—
like mice gnawing
behind the wall.
Illusive dreams,
a slight drifting slumber
that slips away.
The dread of consciousness
creeping back.
Lonely wanderings
in the quiet, dark night.

To help calm things internally and experience restful nights, we try to meet one of life’s most difficult challenges—tolerating not knowing. During the present crisis, we are all provided the task of holding in mind the hope that the present situation will improve, while also bracing for the possibility that it may be prolonged, may worsen or return in another phase. Pondering the degree of difficulty involved in maintaining hope in the face of uncertainty brings to mind one of my favorite poems, by Carrie Fountain. May we all find some wisdom, and solace in her words.


By Carrie Fountain

The wasps outside
the kitchen window
are making that
thick, unraveling sound
again, floating in
and out of the bald head
of their nest,
seeming not to move
while moving,
and it has just occurred
to me, standing,
washing the coffeepot,
watching them hang
loosely in the air—thin
wings; thick, elongated
abdomens; sad, down-
pointing antennae—
that this is the heart’s constant
project: this simple
learning; learning
how to hold
and hope together;
to see on the unharmed surface of one
the great scar
of the other; to recognize
both and to make
something of both;
to desire everything
and nothing
at once and to desire it
all the time;
and to contain that desire
fleshly, in a body;
to wash it and rest it
and feed it; to learn
its name and from whence
it came; and to speak
to it—oh, most of all
to speak to it—
every day, every day,
saying to one part,
“Well, maybe this is all
you get,” while saying
to the other, “Go on,
break it open, let it go.”