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Writer of the Quarantine: Rachel Leonard

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I’m the communication and events coordinator for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma. In my free time I enjoy baking, volunteering with local arts organizations and writing poetry. Before we started practicing social distancing, I participated at Poetry Open Mic at Paseo Plunge held by Poetic City on Sunday nights. The Poetry Open Mics have cultivated an encouraging and inspiring community of talented writers.

I look forward to the day when it is safe for us to gather and share what we have written during quarantine. But in the meantime, I am happy to be able to share my poetry with you.

Below are two poems I have been working on. I have also attached the voice recordings because I miss reading my poems aloud for my open mic friends.


The first poem, “Close,” describes how the simple act of sleeping next to someone can cause a deeper emotional connection. During a time of social distancing it has become apparent how even basic forms physical touch can influence the emotional bond between two people.

Close

Feeling every inch of your skin
Where it rests against mine
Even the rugged parts of you
Have softened and turned delicate
Your warmth washes over me
Radiating peace through my bones

We haven’t moved, yet closer now
Feeling every breath you take
As they grow heavy with slumber
The cadence of your chest
Effortlessly moves in sync with mine
Your exhale dances across my neck
My desire for you is fulfilled, then deepens

Wide awake as you dream, closer still
Feeling the weight of your arm
As you unconsciously hold me near
Security found in vulnerability
I etch this moment into my mind
So even when you’re gone
I can remember how it felt
when we were close



I wrote the next poem “Panic Properly,” while reflecting about a panic attack I experienced at the beginning of the quarantine. This poem examines how society’s gender roles can influence women’s ability to express emotion and illustrates how anxiety can be a result of the inability to express anger properly.

Panic Properly

I was taught to always act polite
Be agreeable and do what’s right
Give a smile and don’t raise my voice
Suppress my feelings without given choice
All to fit in the mold built by society
Unknowingly replacing my anger with anxiety

So now, when boundaries are crossed
And my anger is lost
I can’t let my troubles go
Or even help my heartbeat slow
Instead a cycle of worry
Turns my vision blurry
Each breath becomes a fight
The moment my chest gets tight
Getting sick from what I cannot control
While beads of sweat begin to roll
My body shivers and shakes
Crying 'til each lunge aches
Jaw clenched yet teeth continue to chatter
Feeling as sane as the mad hatter

But why can’t I get mad like him
Because I was taught that anger is a sin
I want to scream and shout and let it out
But I’m overwhelmed by my own self-doubt
Trying to learn new ways to cope
Searching to find even a fragment of hope
Frozen until this panic has passed
Knowing this attack won’t be my last

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