On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Today marks the second anniversary.

It makes you weak,
all this acidfire inside you,
all this rancid water,
or deathdank air,
or if you like, ash-rock,
leftover from a flaming ghat.
As they burn, you leach
away into some void
where no one sees you
or hears you,
and this, you know,
is as close as you will be
to heaven.

Her softlined face, if she was
your warm-stomached mother,
will haunt you
like moon-apricate,
your unkind word, in haste,
never forgotten
will come back to you
like spoondrift
spat out by gloomy gods.
His sound, if he was
your lopsided brother,
the one you smacked in joy,
for you were birdsmall,
niggardly with your treasures,
and he but a wingbabe blown away,
he now laughs at you.

The unremembered dead,
so many that no one cares,
only you, barbarian,
only you want,
to screamcrowd the whispers,
burndown homes,
torrent away libraries,
scythe off cities,
bootkick the life out of things,
kill, maim, wound, lacerate,
anything to go beyond
this night-wandering day,
this rain-fearing body,
this woolly mouth, stuffed
full of skincotton, because
you are alive and they have gone,
all of them, every one of them,
and now, what remains
is this bezoar fire inside you,
raging and hollowing,
this fire that lights you up,
this fire that will not die.

Anupama Mohan lives and works in Kolkata, and is the author of Twenty Odd Love Poems (The Writer’s Workshop).

Featured image: Reuters/Arko Datta