One Month

1,000,000. Number of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. predicted in a statistical model published March 13th that assumed no social distancing measures.

 

154. Number of minutes on March 15th that I spent reading news media on my iPhone.

 

0. Number of states with “stay at home” orders on March 16th.

 

On March 17th I woke up at 2 a.m. I checked our bank account balances and mortgage. I estimated our average monthly budget. I calculated a budget for us without my husband’s in-come. I calculated a budget for us without my income. I filled a notepad with numbers.

 

349,000,000,000. Number of dollars the US government allocated on March 27th to a Forgivable Loan Program for small businesses.

 

100,000. Number of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. predicted by U.S. officials on March 31st as a “best case scenario.”

 

6. Distance measured in feet to maintain between yourself and any non-household member.

 

On March 29th I woke up at 4 a.m. I read The New York Times. The Guardian. FiveThirtyEight. My local newspaper. The Washington Post. Vox.
I needed more. More facts. More graphs and charts. More ways to control the uncontrollable.

 

6,650,000. Number of Americans who filed a new claim for unemployment benefits during the fourth week of March.

 

5. Number of times I used hand sanitizer during a trip to the grocery store on April 3rd.

 

55. Number of diagnosed Covid-19 cases in my county as of April 3rd.

 

On April 4th I woke up at 2 a.m. to read the news. I read for hours. And hours.

 

6. Number of minutes within a timekeeping increment for my law firm.

 

70. Number of professional increments I need each day within a schedule that has become po-rous, overlapping math tutorials and skinned knees with PowerPoint slides and client consulta-tions.

 

13. Number of increments I spent on April 7th attending to my professional obligations.

 

17. Number of increments I spent on April 7th walking through the woods with my children.

 

During the night of April 8th I slept 9 hours and 40 minutes. I woke tired and slow. After breakfast I put the milk in the pantry instead of the fridge. I stared at my computer screen.

 

12,621. Number of deaths in the US attributed to Coronavirus as of April 8th.

 

21,919. Number of deaths in the US attributed to Coronavirus as of April 13th.

 

28,280. Number of deaths in the US attributed to Coronavirus as of April 16th.

 

I dream of a corps of poets, deployed to every news conference, stepping forward to the microphones. Come to save us from a world turned inside out. Giving us words to crawl beneath the facts. Words to hold our souls. Words to take root in the places where our stories live. Because those who habitually see the world inside out may be the only ones who can restore our equilibrium in the present moment.

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Author: E. M. Wright

E. M. Wright’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Berkeley Fiction Review, The South Carolina Review, Pithead Chapel, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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