Immunocompromised, poetry written by Justin Bell at
Tetiana Shyshkina



written by: Justin Bell


In the mere span of a few months my
grandmother became instantly vulnerable
and the TV berated her “Elderly! Elderly! Elderly!”

Never in her life had she become so present
of her age. This was a woman who built whole
gardens out of her hands, who still sifted

flour and sugar into family legend, who molded
three sons into polished men (with a steady vegetable
intake). Now, we hushed to each other about how

much she’d been going to the grocery store, how
long we had to wait before visiting. We lie awake
at night thinking we might’ve killed her. We might

murder her with our sneeze. I missed her stapled packets
of articles she’d print off in black in white ink to stuff in
an envelope for us. Now I see on the desk “Are people with

Lupus protected from COVID-19?” Jesus – the night we
made masks at the dinner table, I couldn’t shake the feeling
it was a second Easter. I pictured every family member big

smiles and the way they used to tower over me. When
everyone was invincible and no one you knew well could
die, death was for someone else, anonymous obituaries

to skip in the newspaper when you flipped to the cartoons.
Now death lives in our homes, he flips on the TV.
He sneaks a bite of her cake, he pretends to be helping

in the garden. All-day he floats around the house till
the dog is sick of announcing his presence. And far away
outside, people are demanding he be let into her lungs,
because they’re bored.

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