Love in the Time of COVID-19: A Speak Poetry Project

Speak Poetry in San Mateo County" is Aileen Cassinetto's (Poet Laureate 2019-2022) community project made possible with support from the County of San Mateo Board of Supervisors and The Academy of American Poets. It is a web archive that includes
community poems such as, "Love in the Time of Covid-19 for Healthcare Workers and Other Frontliners," works completed under the San Mateo County Youth Ecopoetry Project, the bios of over 300 poets from San Mateo County and surrounding areas, and other initiatives launched by Ms. Cassinetto. It is a celebration of poetry and its many roles in our shared humanity, as well as an invitation to connect, explore and build community. To find out more about the project, please visit:

Love in the Time of COVID-19

A Community Poem for Healthcare Workers and Other Frontliners, from San Mateo County

Our loved ones have proven their immense bravery, at times volunteering to care for those sick and putting their own lives at risk. This poem is for all the people who work so we can be safe at home. We love you to the moon and back.

Your voice holds me
when your arms cannot.

You spoke calming words to me
as I slipped into sleep,

and yours were the first eyes I saw
as I came out from under the fog.

Afraid and alone, you hold
our hands through the darkness.

Wingless angels dressed in scrubs,
footfall on our steps,

jasmine scent, a bag of groceries
on our doorstep,

a tap on the window,
a neighbor’s wave,

a newly-sewn mask tossed
(in a plastic bag), to the front

of the door: “run it through the washer
first,” she calls, waves, and departs.

(Fifteen years ago, at fifteen,
just arrived from El Salvador,

she walked into my Jefferson High
ESL class. Today, she is a hero,

daily risking her life for her patients,
while her own children wait

in their fog-shrouded home.)
Earth angels, haloes shining bright,

working with this virus in the air!
We will not despair

You support us
You surround us

Because of you, the world
will get brighter,

socially un-distancing.
Bless the arms that hold you today.

My arms ache with the energy
of a thousand unspent hugs,

eager to envelope someone
in an embrace so all-encompassing

as to make us both forget all that’s happened,
if only for a moment.

We’re all joining hands,
guests on this planet,

across many lands.
We are forever grateful

to the warriors who save lives.
Time to recognize the real heroes,

brilliant shadows, as we’ve never
seen before. God calls us

to opportunity, it is for each
of us to claim. Our neighbor

is our brother, is our sister,
is our keeper, is our healer.

As soldiers, you stand tall,
ready for the next patient who calls.

Your love and care exemplify
heroism without compare.

Without you, our country would be
facing an even larger catastrophe.

Doctors and nurses and other
frontliners, with help to give.

Some deliver goods,
some clean and scrub,

stock the shelves,
and work so hard

so we can stay in our space.
You can do it, you can make it,

single mom working two shifts,
exhausted nursing home staff

and loyal admin staff,
fighting against depression

and confusion. Dementia.
Dressing up in silly costumes,

dancing down the halls,
holding iPads high

so loved ones can see,
their elderly parent

who are unable to communicate,
reassuring them

that everything will be okay.
Smiling faces, heads pounding,

tirelessly ensuring
the outside world

stays ‘outside’
and residents stay safe.

For the inner strength,
courage and compassion

with which you serve,
our eternal devotion, you so deserve.

For all your efforts,
may you be blessed

a thousandfold. Where we are,
the tired ghosts of fearful uncertainty

welcome the laughter
that champions the heart,

as help travels at the speed of light
to spread hope in desperate times,

for the speed of love turns out
to be the speed of light.

A gentle reminder:
Be safe. Be well.

Be kind. Which is to say,
shelter in safety and love.

Everybody’s home
and nobody’s alone.