I gaze out the window of my small room And look at the world as it turns Now brought low by events of the universe A strangely altered world looks back at me This beautiful serpent I stare eye to eye Forced to eat of the apple Picked by another from this unchosen tree My days a puzzle of quiet hysteria Searching for a place to fit in Where are the friends of once shared phone lines? That met for warm sustenance of body and spirit Now long distance words seldom spoken Separate air steals and twists into knotted ropes Mangled and empty without purpose or theme The reversal of fortune and status Is living in continuous winter Now cold and naked with no where to hide The move to a descendant’s dwelling Reversing the order adding a whirlwind of doubt The slow sinking a comedy of errors The new order of living with sense and sensibility confused and unguided Is there time for restoration of this older frail structure? The window’s reflection of furrows unhidden What began in 2008 as considerable slowly dissolved into nothingness A piece-by-piece reckoning that became this pane of pain That once was a choice among many Can the graying disguise the lonely resolve of spirit - restore, restore, restore? Or leave these furrows reflected in this lonely window a space of unrelenting endlessness?
The acrid air stings as I breathe in through the double layered stylish face mask. My breathing becomes forced and my glasses steam as I fumble to pull the mask away from my nose for a quick breath of not so fresh air. I franticly check the store’s signaling cement floors for signs and arrows directing me as to the direction to shop the aisles as well as where I must stand behind the silent masked body in front of me as we wait for the plexiglass enclosed masked, gloved cashier at check-out. There are fires here in California forcing another cautionary health concern added to the ever-present Corona virus, COVID-19. My granddaughter calls it The Rona. Our lives are now occupied with statistical numbers related to sickness, death, unemployment, social distancing, handwashing, and masks. And for me, perhaps worse of all, being denied the smiles offered as secret kisses thrown through space, absorbed by waiting eyes, gently engaging the reactionary impulse of a smile in return. And oh, the hugs; that sharing of touch that is evidence of aliveness indicating the benevolence of humanity. These shared precious gifts are now hidden beneath cloths of different colors and social distancing. And when the elusive smile is not hidden or a stranger invades the closely guarded personal space, the seen lips and the mortal body in its revelation and closeness now compromises spatial privilege causing a creeping anxiety into the psyche of the cloth wearers and distance keepers sometimes leading to physical altercations.
My eighteen-month-old great granddaughter only enjoyed her Baby-Gym visits until her first birthday in January. Her party at the gym was the last past-normal social gathering we experienced as a family. How will future-normal society create itself? Who knows the power of The Rona and its creepy insinuation into our bodies and our lives? As I contemplate the future, if this is the new reality and not a sci-fi dream, and I am blessed with living another healthy twenty years, I will tell her bedtime stories of the hugs and smiles offered from strangers that once was an everyday experience in life here on earth.
The Rona affects every instance of our living. In the months since its naming, there have been deaths unrelated to C-19 with no proper funeral or memorial service. The sicknesses related and unrelated to the virus causing senior care facility visits to be cancelled leaving our elders dependent on the kindness of strangers as family as well as frantic concern regarding hospital visits for those of any age regarding underlying health conditions. A restaurant outing is like visiting another planet with persons greeting you in masks, rubber gloves, eye protected helmets and the ever-present bottle of disinfectant spray. Am I dreaming a sci-fi nightmare or is 2020 the real unlucky number out pacing 13 and 666?