Published August 31, 2020
Read in PDF format

Corresponding Author

Talia H. Swartz, MD, PhD

the air is tense and unsafe
shimmering veils obscure emotion
fears and hopes digitized misunderstood

warm tears stream for him
both vying for indefinite options
his lungs are weaker

she pleads for him
he cannot plead
he cannot breathe

but not seen through plexiglass walls
and faceshields and masks
is guilt

guilt that she was on the other side
that she brought this home
that he is here because of her

guilt cannot escape because it is protected
inside the confines of this room
for no one else to perceive

and in these walls of protection
that there is nothing to protect her
from this immutable guilt



About the Author

Assistant Professor Medicine, Infectious Diseases

Associate Director, Medical Scientist Training Program

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

1 Gustave L Levy Pl, Box 1090

New York, NY 10029


Talia H. Swartz, MD, PhD is Assistant Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is a physician scientist who studies inflammation in the context of HIV-1 and more recently SARS-CoV-2 infection. This poem was inspired by her experiences caring for COVID-19 patients on the wards at the peak of the pandemic in April 2020 in New York.


Copyright © 2020 Pathogens and Immunity

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Talia H. Swartz

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

© Pathogens and Immunity 2019

Case Western Reserve University; Division of Infectious Diseases

10900 Euclid Ave.; Mailstop 4984; Cleveland, OH 44106

(216) 368-6317; ISSN: 2469-2964; info@paijournal.com