Origin Stories – Ann Wallace

Origin Stories
    Spring Song
    by Ann Wallace

    The sirens 
    wail the soundtrack 
    of this silent spring
    a keening intertwined with birdsong
    by day,
    with my daughter’s dry, dry cough
    through the night,
    life and death bound together contrapuntal
    on and on
    so that I no longer hear the sirens,
    until I do. 

    “Spring Song,” originally published in Wordgathering

Origin Stories – Spring Song

On April 20, 2020, when I wrote “Spring Song,” the world had fallen so very quiet in Jersey City, NJ, where I live, while COVID-19 raged not only within my city but also within my home, infecting my 16-year-old daughter Molly and then me. Even as Molly recovered from her acute infection, her horrible dry, hacking cough (along with other symptoms) persisted for months. We would both later develop Long COVID, but on April 20, we were only five and six weeks in. As I battled against pain and hypoxia in my room each night, I could hear Molly suffering in hers. I was bedbound for more than two months that silent season, and I registered very few sounds: my daughter’s cough, the endless stream of ambulances I could hear racing down a nearby street toward the hospital, and—with a reminder that, even amid disease and death, life goes on—the cheery spring songs of the finches, sparrows, and cardinals in my small backyard. 


Ann E. Wallace, PhD, is Poet Laureate of Jersey City, New Jersey. A survivor of ovarian cancer, woman with multiple sclerosis, and COVID longhauler, she has written across multiple genres, from poetry to creative nonfiction to literary scholarship, on the experience and rhetoric of illness. Most recently, she has written and spoken extensively about her experience with Long Covid for a variety of media outlets, including Huffington Post, Good Morning, America, NPR, and numerous literary journals. Wallace is Professor of English at New Jersey City University. She is author of the poetry collection Counting by Sevens (Main Street Rag, 2019) and of a recently completed manuscript Days of Grace and Silence: A Chronicle of COVID’s Long Haul. Her published creative work can be found at AnnWallacePhD.com, and she is on Instagram @annwallace409. 

Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Available now!

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

April 6 – Jeanne DeLarm

April 7 – Virginia Smith

April 8 – Patricia Ware

April 9 – Mary Makofske

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Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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Origin Stories