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Amy—Registered nurse
Intensive care
Metropolitan Melbourne

Oh here you come, you heroes
here comes the marching band
You crowd the streets, indignant
you’ve come to make a stand.
You know more than all of us
this virus won’t find you
Because you’ve trawled the internet
and read a post or two.

Of course you won’t put on a mask,
nor accept a free vaccine
The government won’t cow you,
their requests to you obscene.
We’re told to hide our uniforms,
our scrubs and lanyards too
For fear of sharp reprisal
for the job we love to do.

Your Freedom March is televised
you scream and shout dissent
Meanwhile we all work overtime
our minds and bodies spent.
We can only wait and watch you
as our hard work comes undone
We’re sure that it’s amongst you
because all it takes is one.

And when you go home triumphant
from your riotous display
That silent fickle companion
may well have come to stay.
Your unvaccinated body
is the home it likes the most
With no soldiers trained to fight it,
you make quite the lovely host.

It may take a while before you ache
before it takes its hold
But by then you’ve spread it freely
because of course you won’t be told.
You’ve visited friends and family
you’ve shared some laughs and wine
Because nobody tells you what to do
or how to spend your time.

You label your stance as liberty,
the preservation of your voice
In hysteria’s misinformation,
your body will make the choice.
Then your little friend awakes you,
its ache in every joint
It’s coiled deep down inside your lungs
and will not disappoint.

Your chest is full of needles
you gasp each breath of air
And the realisation hits you
that ‘the flu’ just won’t compare.
You’ve heard our toils as workers
you’ve heard our patients’ plights
But you scoffed at
all their gasps for breath
the terror of their nights.

You have come to claim the treatment,
you refuse to understand
For there is nothing on this journey
that will go the way you’ve planned.
Oh of course we’ll try to help you,
we’ll do our very best
But our best may not be good enough
and you’ll join with all the rest.

You’ll renounce your
pride and arrogance
you’ll beg for a vaccine
You’re at pandemic’s coalface
and you’re scared of what you’ve seen.
You’ll be robbed of many dignities
sickness has that special trait
Of peeling away the wants and whims
in the deciding of your fate.

When your sickness starts to worsen,
to choke you and to strangle
We’ll throw you everything we have,
your lines and tubes a’tangle.
We’ll infuse you full of everything,
we’ll turn you like a clock
We’ll ask your family your wishes,
we’ll soothe their grief and shock.

Our machines will give you
every breath
we’ll calculate and measure
Our years of knowledge and evidence
the greatest countermeasure.
And all the while you’ll take our time
and a vital hospital bed
While others grow yet sicker
because we’re treating you instead.

Surgeries will be cancelled,
raging cancers unresected
Our healthcare system under strain,
urgent treatments left neglected.
The lucky ones we bear across
to our workmates on the ward
The unlucky we give dignity
and the empathy we can afford.

And when we see our colleagues
through the isolation glass
We wonder how many
will still work here
when this nightmare comes to pass.