Kitty O'Meara, Author of "And the People Stayed Home,"

Opens Up About Writing That Viral Poem This is why you're seeing that poem everywhere right now.

Kitty O'Meara's prose poem inspired by the coronavirus pandemic—which begins with the line, "And the people stayed home," is going viral.

The poem has inspired thousands of posts on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

But who is Kitty O'Meara, the mysterious author of this work that has so deeply resonated with people? We spoke to O'Meara herself, and got some answers.

Kitty O'Meara is the poet laureate of the pandemic. Her untitled prose poem, which begins with the line, "And the people stayed home," has been shared countless times, on countless backgrounds, with countless fonts, since its first posting. It was most widely popularized by Deepak Chopra, and has since been shared by everyone from Bella Hadid to radio stations in Australia. The poem has become shorthand for a silver-linings perspective during the coronavirus outbreak—the hope that something good can come out of this collective state of "together, apart."

The poem begins with the evocative line: "And the people stayed home," and goes on to describe an idyllic version of the months to come. Through O'Meara's lens, the era of social distancing could be taken up by purposeful activity like meditation, exercise, and dancing, and result in a kind of global healing.

The poem reads like a cross between a proverb, Instagram poem, and, if you're feeling optimistic, psychic prediction.

And the people stayed home. 

And the people stayed home. 
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. 
And listened more deeply. 
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. 
Some met their shadows. 
And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. 

And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

It's obvious why this meditative poem has resonated so deeply with people: It inserts the idea of individual agency back into something out of our control, and imagines that the time after this will not only exist—it'll be better than before.

Instead, the major mystery has become the identity of its mysterious author, a woman whose online presence boils down to a blog, a Facebook page, and lots of people asking

Who is Kitty O'Meara?

We got answers, catching up with O'Meara (virtually, of course) from her home outside of Madison, WI, which she shares with her five rescue dogs and her "dear one," her nickname for her husband, Phillip. A former teacher and chaplain, O'Meara is now retired.

"It offers a story of how it could be, what we could do with this time," O'Meara tells of her viral work.

Fittingly, the poem is proof of what O'Meara has chosen to do with herself while social distancing: Write. "And the people stayed home" was written in one sitting, the byproduct of months of built-up anxiety while watching the pandemic brew on the news.

"I was anxious for the past few months. I knew this was coming and I couldn't be of service," O'Meara tells OprahMag.com. After years working in palliative care, O'Meara is especially concerned for her friends who still work in the health care profession and are on the frontlines of battling the virus.

"I was getting kind of sad. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t help my friends. I was very worried about them. My husband said: ‘Write. Just write again,’" O'Meara recalls.

So, she did. "I just kind of sat down and wrote it," O'Meara says matter-of-factly, crediting "spirit" with the process. "I saw the maps of the receding pollution over China and Europe. I thought, ‘There you go. There’s something of blessing in all suffering.' And I thought with my passionate love for the Earth, maybe that’s one good thing."

Immediately after writing, O'Meara shared this poem with her friends on Facebook. "I post stuff like that all the time. I usually don't get a lot of response," O'Meara says. "But this found its niche."

That's an understatement; the poem resonated with people instantly. Soon, a Facebook friend asked to share the poem with her own followers, and within three days of posting, her husband, encountered the poem elsewhere on the Internet. Kitty O'Meara had officially gone viral.

Carol Mercedes
Pink Hot Publisher / United Photo Press Magazine