|The Plague Doctor, Edinburgh, UK circa 1650 (Carole Di Tosti)|
To all who wait for gowns and gloves and masks
To all who cry to God, "What can I do,"
To save this dying one, impossible task?
To all at home who're mournful and afraid
To all who shelter in who're bored and mad
To all who check their symptoms Covid made
To all who tested negative, so glad,
Remember all who work to save your lives
The governors whose wisdom, knowledge, care,
Uplifted you toward calm to daily strive
To love your neighbor, throw off all despair.
So maintain space between THE social grace
To ward off Death, reflect Christ's shining face.
*When I was in Edinburgh last year for the International Festival, I toured the underground streets of the Old Town. The guide brought us through the warren of dingy living quarters and featured the small spaces where the poor lived. The Bubonic Plague visited Europe then and one imagined how miserable the inhabitants of the old Old Town were as some made it through, others died and others escaped to the country where the rats didn't carry the fleas that were filled with virus. After the tour I purchased a slate tile in the museum shop with the Plague Doctor featured. The Doctor visited sick victims and did what he could in the quarantined home. He wore our equivalent of a hazmat suit covering him from top to toe. Gloves were on his hands and in the mask's beak were herbs thought to prevent him from inhaling the foul contagious air. This year of Covid 19, the 21st century plague of near robotic perfection at securing a host and multiplying to overcome the breath of life, The Plague Doctor's spirit floats once more around the globe ministering hope.