You watch your boy struggle with giving
up the turtle, returning it to the pond
where he’d found it on a walk—
first time you’d all been out in days.
How thoughtful he thought he’d been,
making it a home in the home
where the family sheltered in place.
How he cared for his armored friend.
Having picked flowers, knowing they’d die,
you understand the urge to pluck
the exotic, the beautiful — any diversion
from fear, which is in itself a disease.
That morning, you helped your boy
give up the idea of living forever.
Poem copyright ©2020 by Richard Levine, “Sheltered in Place.”