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Exhala: A Poem


Poem by Isabel Mavrides-Calderon

The storm has passed

Inhala, Exhala

I have to remind myself it's over

hospital beds, pain, beeping machine,

being stuck in my motionless body struggling

to go on

No control, just fear.

The storm has passed, it’s over

I can’t get it out of my head

The look on my mom’s face

Fear, desperation, lack of control over her

daughter's life

The sound of her voice when she said, I love you,

not knowing if she would ever say it to me


It’s imprinted in my brain

But the storm has passed

It's over now.

I hear loud coughs coming from my dad

My mom looks at me

I can recognize the same fear in her eyes she

had for me

Inhala, Exhala

I can't fully breathe

I tested positive, I’m high risk,

but that doesn’t mean events will repeat


I’m stopped by pain

I don't have control

My mom comes

Treatment will help, no need to fear

But I see the same look on her face

I tune it out and start classes

I hear my mom’s trembling voice on the phone

The same fear I heard in June

I hear her tears, the same tears I heard before

The way she is only able to cry when she is

scared for me

Inhala ..

I can't do it.

I lost total control.

We rush to the ER

I walk through the same doors I've walked

through countless times before

But the storm has passed

Why aren’t things different?

And they are

Beds zoom by with patients struggling to gain


The smell of alcohol that I know so well is joined

by a smell of fear

No one has control.

The steady beep of the machines that once

drove me insane

is replaced with erratic beeps

Doctors come in to help me regain control

They know so much, but so little

Faced with the decision to give me the only thing

that will save me

But might kill me

They say, we don't know enough

A reminder that they don’t have control

I look out into the hallway that was once a peds


I was there three weeks before

In pain

Now I’m back


The pictures of the beach in the wall I have

perfectly memorized

I thought back to all the times I would stare at

those happy healthy kids on the beach

wishing I was them

Now the whole Peds ER is no longer

It’s fear, Corona triage

I think back to the only light I had in the storm,


Will hope get us through this?

Can hope make this pass too?

The storm has passed

But a tsunami has started.

For more from Isabel, follow on IG: @powerfullyisa and @isabelmavrides


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