Phyllis Klein

CORONAVIRUS AT SEVENTY WITH PREEXISTING CONDITIONS

Maybe it’s inevitable—you will get it,
even as the sunlight stabs the place
of your shelter as if it were writing
quarantine on the house. Even as
your fresh food diminishes

so you have to go out, contend
with people to get more.
And the ways of life we took for
granted just weeks ago, evaporating
into the light of days spent

with a mixture of fear and incredulity.
And nights when you become the fear.
This menace no one can control.
It already hijacks your breath,
the heaviness in your chest familiar

enough, magnified by anxiety
and spring pollen. This shelter
with death, death snoops through
the window, the front door,
taunts from the eyes of vegetables

at the market, ambushes from mouths
and noses, sneezes, coughs, and appendages.
Which tiny copy of the original mutant
pathogen might be the one
that will colonize you? Why can’t

you put a filter on your brain?
So many terrible thoughts careen
into gloomy movie-theater size
nightmares. Screen plays of disaster.
Wash, wash, as if you could get it all.

But maybe you will. Maybe your immune
system works better than you think.
Maybe you will be one of the lucky,
the luminous ones. Make it to eighty.
Keep your script.


0-23PHYLLIS KLEIN’s work has appeared or will appear in numerous journals and anthologies including Chiron Review, Portside, Sweet: A Literary Confection, 3Elements, Poetry Hotel, I-70, California Fire and Water, and the Minnesota Review. She is a finalist in the Sweet Poetry Contest (2017), the Carolyn Forche Humanitarian Poetry Contest (2019), and the Fischer Prize (2019). She was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2018. Her book, The Full Moon Herald, is forthcoming from Grayson Books. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years, she sees writing as artistic dialogue between author and readers—an intimate relationship-building process that fosters healing on many levels.

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