Zig-Zag (or Right of Way)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by hullabaloo22

A poem inspired by my experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. A look at how even the most basic and mundane tasks become a struggle during quarantine.

Created: March 18,2021


Ready?

Pockets full of hand sanitizer and

tissues. Face-mask secured. Backpack

and surgical gloves on. Not even good

ol’ Saint Nick could double check

better.

 

Yesterday was

The same as tomorrow, and

Tomorrow will be the same as

Yesterday, but today is different.

Today, open the door and go

Outside.

 

Five minutes.

That’s how long it used to take to walk

Straight down the street to the grocery store.

Now it’s an obstacle course, a congested

mass of people and the real obstacles

Are invisible.

 

The residential

Streets seem safer. Off to the

Side. It takes longer, but isn’t

That what safety’s worth?

An older man approaches.

He coughs.

 

Take a deep

Breath, scurry to the other side. Try not

To do it too fast. Best not to offend. A

Young man is out walking a dog. The

Dog pulls at his leash. The man steers

Into the street.

 

A couple,

Not wearing masks and holding

Hands. Are they living together?

Are they breaking quarantine?

We play chicken, but it’s two

Against one.

 

These houses

Are beautiful. A rainbow in every

Window. A thank you note on every

Door. But there’s not a single face

In any window. They must be out

Shopping too.

 

 

Oh

 

 

good.

 

 

There

 

 

aren’t

 

 

too

 

 

many

 

 

people

 

 

in

 

 

line.

 

 

The shopping cart

Is sticky with lysol. It’s the most

Helpful tool on this excursion.

You------must------remain------one------shopping------cart------away.

Only one at the meat counter

At a time.

 

No one follows

The arrows in the aisles. Southbound

Aisle 5 has northbound traffic, circle

Around, cut through aisle 3 and head

Back up 4. Damn, they took the last

Jar of pickles.

 

A cough starts

As a tickle. The cause is often banal,

Occasionally deadly. Are they sick? Maybe

It’s allergies. Maybe not. Why take the

Chance? Did they cough into their hand

Or their sleeve?

 

Skip that aisle

And go to the next. The baking

Supplies have been pilfered. It’s

Like coming across the remains

Of a battlefield. There’s even

A wailing mother.

 

 

Oh

 

 

god

 

 

is

 

 

the

 

 

person

 

 

in

 

 

front

 

 

really

 

 

buying

 

 

one

 

 

of

 

 

every

 

 

beer

 

 

in

 

 

the

 

 

store?

 

 

The fresh air

Outside is some relief from the

Swampy air circulating under the

Mask. It’s still not safe to take it

Off. Not while a father and son bike

up the sidewalk.

 

The groceries

Are heavy, but that’s a good

Thing. Finally, some exercise.

Cardio and weight lifting.

Joggers pass by in the middle

Of the street.

 

People exit

Their houses armed with pots and

Cutlery. Is it already 7:30pm? They

Clang and holler, and eventually settle,

Talk to their neighbours. The first time

in years.

 

Around the corner

And there she is. Safety, solitude,

Home. The lobby smells like sweet,

Sweet chemical cleaners. If someone

Is waiting for the elevator, it’s faster to

Take the stairs.

 

Gloves need to be stripped off

Before opening the door.

 

Fingers cleaned raw

Before scratching that itch.

 

Groceries disinfected and washed

Before being put away.

 

Clothing taken off and thrown into the wash

Before collapsing onto the bed.

 

Rinse and repeat.

Rinse and repeat.

Rinse and...


Submitted: May 04, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Guenevere Lee. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

hullabaloo22

The best account of life during Covid-19 that I've come across so far. Brilliant work!

Mon, May 4th, 2020 7:29pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much! I may have gotten carried away with the formatting though, lol

Mon, May 4th, 2020 12:30pm

heather barninger

Fantastically written and I appreciated the formatting. I cracked up when I read, 'and the lobby smelled of 'sweet, sweet ....chemical cleaners'. One day (hopefully sooner than later) we'll get to the other side of this thing.

Wed, May 13th, 2020 5:44pm

Author
Reply

Yeah, I never thought I'd ever love the smell of cleaning chemicals before all this, lol. Times are weird, but they can't last forever :)

Sat, May 16th, 2020 11:52am

Sharief Hendricks

Excellent topical piece here Guenevere !

The formatting complimented and suited the crazy times we find ourselves in...

Loved it !

Mon, November 16th, 2020 11:27am

Author
Reply

Thanks! Felt a little crazy when writing it, lol

Mon, November 16th, 2020 6:10am

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