Poet recounts ups and downs of the pandemic — on a literal rollercoaster

For many Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has felt like a rollercoaster. Infections have gone down, then back up. Mask mandates were put in place, then dropped and then required again. Poet Jasmine Gardosi was asked by the British charity National Literacy Trust to write a poem about the pandemic — which she did — riding an actual roller coaster. It's part of our arts and culture series, CANVAS.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Well, for many of us, including myself, the COVID-19 pandemic has felt like a roller coaster. Infections are down, then up. Mask mandates are put in place, then dropped, then required again.

    Poet Jasmine Gardosi was asked by the British charity National Literacy Trust to write a poem about the pandemic, which she did, riding an actual roller coaster.

    It's part of our arts and culture series, Canvas.

  • Jasmine Gardosi, Poet:

    This pandemic? Absolute roller coaster. Wild. But I'm trying to carry on as normal now. That's what everyone else seems to be doing.

    And I should be grateful we have got our freedom back. Look at the direction we're going in, on the up, finally emerging into the light, back out there in the real world. And, yes, my social skills have gone off the rails, but I'm getting them back on track.

    We have turned a corner, in a good way. And I have loved going back to sweaty gigs and sitting on trains full of people, and shaking hands with absolute strangers, and coughing once and thinking it's COVID.

    But the path forward is clear, so clear, right? And we have done the hard work. So, shouldn't it be downhill from here? See? Everything's fine.

    (SCREAMING)

  • Jasmine Gardosi:

    It's going smoothly. I have found my rhythm.

    (SCREAMING)

  • Jasmine Gardosi:

    I'm in control. We have taken a turn for the better, and then for the worse, and then for the better, and then for the — why does it feel like we're going backwards, and round in circles at the same time?

    OK, you want the truth? I'm still terrified. I freak out in crowded places. I can't tell where my OCD ends and legitimate COVID anxiety begins. I'm afraid, so I stay home, I lay low, I say no. No matter what's happening with the number of cases, we're still riding through our own waves, like my shielding friends. They're still isolated.

    We're on the same coaster, different carts, same play, different parts, same storm, different boats, wearing different coats, holding different floats,

    And just do whatever makes you feel safe. It's more than OK to go at your pace. We have still come so far, even if we're technically in the same place.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    We're all on the same coaster together.

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