In the midst of this pandemic, I’ve teamed up with local Bay Area artist, Lora Arbrador, for this ekphrastic poem to discuss the challenges and sacrifices that our health care workers are facing as they battle COVID19. Lora recently featured her painting, Scene From Surgery II: Compassion, on her social media platform, which seemed very fitting and speaks to our current medical crises. I’ve been following Lora Arbrador’s work since 2002, and she is one of the only artists I know who carries her vast medical knowledge as a seasoned registered nurse into her visual art. As the current administration gravely fails to battle this disease that is on its way to taking countless lives in this country due to the gross unavailability of testing, I look to real heroes––our health care workers––who, unwavering, remain on the frontlines fighting this world war with every shred of compassion and selflessness in their bones.
WHEN THE ENEMY IS MICROSCOPIC
for the health care workers battling COVID19
How do you fight a world war when the trenches are
rows of hospital beds and the enemy is microscopic,
skirting in the air for three hours
as if it were a fairy dancing inside a droplet?
The enemy does dance inside droplets
waiting to lay claim to our bodies.
See: Our soldiers aren’t dragging themselves
through mud on elbows and knees,
but fighting the enemy with surgical mask––
what real combat looks like these days.
The rankings have been replaced, where
President, General, Lieutenant, Colonel, and Captain
hold no victories.
Our war heroes do not carry guns
but can still kill an enemy that threatens to take
our bodies––potential battlefields.
Our heroes fight with what little they are given,
and they arrive, not by steed or armored tank
but simply masked as superheroes in scrubs
with steady hands, a compassionate voice, and years of training,
continuing to fight with what little they have––
which is all that they have,
which includes their lives, and ours.
MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST
Inspired by her career as a Registered Nurse, Lora Arbrador explores themes of surgery, death and dying, and even colostomy in her visual art. She also explores the delights and agony of love, bordering on gentle eroticism in a setting of botanical extravagance. With regard to her Medical Mysteries paintings, Lora captures the emotion and intimacy of medicine that is oftentimes overshadowed by its formalities.
Lora expresses her artistry in the ancient medium of egg tempera. She combines pigment with egg yolk, which has a sensual feel when applied to a plaster ground that coats a wooden board. The dozens of built-up layers create a nuanced luminosity.
Lora has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States. She is based in the Bay Area where her growth, career, and success as an artist span over thirty years.