When Nanay Comes Home from the Hospital

by Zoe Dorado

Filipinos make up 4% of the nurses in the U.S. but 31.5% of nurse deaths from COVID-19. My mom is part of that 4%. I don’t want her to become part of that 31.5%. Currently, 80 million Americans who could get a vaccine haven’t, and we are all paying the price as the Delta variant has become a source of 92% of all new infections in our country.

I wrote this poem because I wanted to explore how and why this pandemic has disproportionately affected Filipino nurses; whose, like so many stories, have been tucked under the rug in the name of painting the American healthcare system as independent from historical and present institutional racism. In other words, the U.S. and its relationship with the Philippines, through imperialism, through post-colonialism, through the Marcos dictatorship, and up to the present, has a common denominator: it diminishes the narratives of the people who keep us safe, who have been on the frontline of the frontlines. And so this poem is for nurses like my mom, who, like all of us, deserve to be safe.

Zoe describes how vaccines help protect the health and safety of her nurse mother, who says, "I will still leave, still go to work every week, but I’ll be safe, you’ll be safe, and yes, I will come home to you.”


Write a poem about what safety means to you and your community. If you are feeling inspired, try writing it from the perspective of someone you love, similar to the poet.


"Safety means..."