Exposure

Artist name: David Walsh
Description: Poem. The angst that gathers when informed that I was directly exposed to COVID-19.

Exposure
The Order of Quarantine shackles me
(sigh)
to house and grounds for two weeks,
(depression)
my car can rest in peace.
(cough)
I was blissfully ignorant the first five days,
(sneeze)
calls from three officious nurses and one
(congestion)
legal document set the day clock running.

Life routine is altered.
(stress)
Pam is the only person to handle food,
(fever)
I am further useless in the kitchen.
(chest pain)
I am ‘no touch’ and she follows behind
(vomit)
with Clorox wipes if I do.

We separate to different bedrooms,
(nausea)
hall bathroom resurrected as mine.
(no appetite)
I retire for the night by turning right
(diarrhea)
instead of left, loneliness arriving first. Toothbrush
(headache)
has moved, I don’t remember where the toothpaste
(body ache)
is kept, the towel hangs askew, righthanded.
(fatigue)
Too many pillows piled on the unused bed,
(lack of smell)
narrow enough that I can roll twice and find the floor,
(no taste)
another pandemic risk. Even the windows face
(chills)
the wrong way, toward the street with no gardens
(fear)
but plenty of neighborhood floodlights.

We wear disposable masks
(insomnia)
in case our paths cross within six feet,
(contact tracing)
even to avoid coughing on our lawn.
(separation)
We resist shaking out the laundry,
(isolation)
it may contain toxic germs.
(hand washing)
Sex certainly seems out of order,
(hand sanitizer)
the only important sheath is worn facially.
(disposable gloves)

A text arrives daily from a distant nurse,
(kidney failure)
I respond 1 if sick, 2 if no symptoms,
(oxygen loss)
I can discuss with a big CONSULT.
(dialysis)
There is no response that states I’ve wandered off,
(respirator)
guilt and shame refrains me.
(death)

We have time that can expire,
pandemic red swath above our doorway.

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