Tucked inside a HEPA filter.
Suspended in hand sanitizer
Thick like amniotic fluid,
A full grown woman in a fetal sack.

Behind a protective plastic barrier,
A room stocked with bleach wipes
Where everything opens automatically
And hands sit idle.

Exchanging significant glances rather
Than handshakes.
And “Go the F*** home” for “God bless you”
When a cough rips the air.

A stockpile of soup and dried beans
And hope–that a humanity threatened
By a virus crowned king
Can take on our most significant challenges.

I wrote this poem last Tuesday, March 10th.

I went shopping last Wednesday, March 11th, thinking I should probably stock up a bit just to be safe.

Thursday, March 12th, was the day I spent home spiraling down the news vortex–plunged into fear as more and more closures and emergency measures were announced. That day the stores in Atlanta were thrown into chaos with items torn from the shelves and staples depleted.

I had to go shopping again this past Tuesday, March 17th, which I did with much trepidation, trying to keep a wide distance from other customers while navigating aisles full of employees restocking and filling grocery pick up orders. People were wearing masks and gloves. I had only my little bottle of hand sanitizer that I used like vial of holy water–sending up a prayer and rubbing my hands together every time I had to touch a handle or another customer came too near.

I once won a bottle of holy water for finishing first in a 6th grade spelling bee (incidentally this was the day I discovered I was actually pretty intelligent). The bottle was from Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France, which news reports suggest is closed now for the first time in its history.

I placed the bottle in my personal shrine to Mary, which sat atop the bookshelf in my room. The holy water was only used once–I gave it to my grandmother when she was in the hospital to help heal her. She recovered then but has passed since–a long time ago now.

My grandmother, who I called Grammy, liked to tell me when I was worried that “the world will keep spinning on its axis.”

Which is true, but life sure does feel strange and foreboding right now so I’m going to worry for a little while longer.

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