One in Five Hundred

Maybe here – the crème colored house
with the bright orange door
and four basketballs in the yard
(what child needs four,
unless a parent’s trying to fill a hole?)

Or the dark stained corner house,
with porch, American flag,
late roses and early pumpkin,
or the assisted living facility
across the street from it,
where I was excited to visit folks
right after my second shot,
but now they’re safer if I don’t go.

And then there is the little white one
I would never see except
it is next to the electric sign
that warns drivers of their speed
and today tells me
I’m walking three miles per hour.
I blame the dog, but
it’s sadness slows me down.

One in every five hundred residents
of the United States
in many houses I do not see
and never will,
have died of covid
the newsfeed reported yesterday.

Every four hundred-ninety-nine of us,
grateful for Jesus’ claim
of the radical hospitality of God’s house
with its many rooms,

should grieve this unnecessary
full occupancy
maybe with basketballs or roses,
always with slower steps.

My house last autumn
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10 Responses to One in Five Hundred

  1. dabar96 says:

    Lord, in your mercy, awaken us to the grief of this math, and the presence needed to attend the absences.

  2. Beautiful, Maren. Your words are so poignant.

  3. Jessica McArdle says:

    A poignant if not devastating loss. Beautiful words, Maren.

  4. Donald Shenk says:

    Beautiful. One of your finest and that is saying something! I appreciate your ministry so very much.

  5. Thanks Maren, for once more finding words to express our loss and touch our hearts.

    • Maren says:

      You are so welcome, Shirley. Putting the numbers in this different format — one in five hundred — somehow is so much more striking than the big numbers that climb and climb … the first thing I thought was — one in my Des Moines high school class. It personalizes.

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