Worldwide, we have lost 1,680,395 souls
In the US, 311,150.
These are not just numbers on a page
This is not mere data.
In March, when all this started to crystallize
When I had just started working from home
While walking the dog on one clear winter morning
In the bright white light of the new snow
Watching it fall on the black and red
Of my love’s insulated coat
This unseen virus
Had only begun
As had my what-if
Anxious ideas about the future.
A month previous
Or maybe mere weeks
Who remembers now
I sat in my boss’s office
At the nursing home
Where I played secretary
And let my fear show;
Wanting to know my expectations
If this thing found its way in our doors
I let my professional demeanor fall
Along with a few tears.
Working at home was acceptable
Until they decided it wasn’t
Even with an auto-immune disease
In the middle of a pandemic.
That was end of May.
Earlier that month
My son’s before and after-school daycare
Informed us they had confirmed
That prior to the shutdown
A pedophile was working there
Looking after my son
I sat him down
Asked some careful questions
Prayed I was asking them the right way
Was relieved he seemed untouched; unhurt.
Over the summer I got notice
Of a sex offender living in the neighborhood;
He’s in the group home one street over;
Our backyard looks into his.
We showed the kids his picture
With careful instructions to say something
If he ever came near.
And the pandemic continued to rage on.
The world continued to spin away
Out of control.
No, you can’t have your friends over.
No, we can’t go to Canada.
No, it’s too crowded there.
No, they don’t have a mask on.
No, the museum is closed.
No, you can’t go to back to school yet.
I don’t know.
We’ll have to wait and see.
Don’t touch that.
Use this hand sanitizer.
Do you have your masks?
Put a shirt on, it’s time for your Zoom class to start.
Now, it’s five days until Christmas.
I’m staring out my office window
Into my backyard
Which faces the sex offender’s backyard
Looking out at the new snow
I do my best to steal quiet moments
To fight my way through
The hoarded piles in my mind
To do whatever I can
To just be
And get through
I don’t usually smoke
But this lovely little
Emerald green, art deco ash tray
Asked me to.
I said yes.
What’s it like where you are?
What goes on behind your mask?