I feel like Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “wan and palely loitering.” Oh–that was the knight in thrall to La Belle Dame Sans Merci, not the poetess reclining day in, day out on a sofa with her little dog lying by her side. But to hell with accuracy. I feel like both of them rolled into one covid-wracked body and I hate it. 

If I’m going to feel this lackluster, I should at least be able to write poetry–or be the subject of a poem. However there’s nothing poetic about having to force myself to take a shower and brush my teeth every damned morning. Why bother when the high point of my day happens when I take a nap? 

Yesterday I took a nap at 4, woke up well after five, and still logged in a full night’s sleep. In the past eleven days, I’ve taken more naps than I have in my entire 70+-years. I feel as though I’m in training to become a coma patient. This is not my life.

Things were going well yesterday before I took to my bed. I grew restless. I wanted to go out. I took a walk that had me thinking of going home after the first four blocks. Instead I made it as far as the downtown library, came home, and felt drained. 

The last time I felt like this was when I had a kidney infection in Bangkok. “Why,” I asked my doctor over the phone,”don’t I have any energy?” “Give yourself time,” she told me, “You’re almost fifty.” Now I’m almost seventy-four so convalescence may take a while.

I’m usually a creature of appetites that verge on the voracious. I wake up eager for small adventures in the outside world, looking for something new to read, planning to meet a friend for a drink, making friends with other people’s dogs, buying new colors at the art supply store. Now it feels as though my world has shrunk to a do-it-yourself testing kit and its inexorable T line.

My ambitions have become humble affairs. I want to do my laundry, take a walk without wearing an N95 shield and feel the wind on my face, eat a meal without feeling as though it’s a chore. I want to go thorough an entire day without once going back to bed. I want to want again.

I know I’m lucky. I have all five of my senses, while covid has deprived others of the ability to smell or taste. I’m not kept awake by a racking cough or a sore throat. I’m not in a hospital room. And each time I take that test, the T line grows less emphatic. 

One of these days I’ll wake up with energy that will last all day. In the meantime this impatience that’s gnawing at me is a reassurance that I’m not cut out to be a languid, lethargic poetess, sipping a little port for medicinal purposes. There’s a glass of Pinot Noir and a plate of pommes frites waiting for me somewhere, along with a conversation with a good friend and I’ll be there soon.