WALKING IN THE DAYS OF THE VIRUS #2

WALKING IN THE DAYS OF THE VIRUS
(#2 Groceries)

Out on a limb again
or two
but not yet four
crossing the cemetery
to the local supermarket
for fresh(ish) vegetables

No music this time
but the absence of traffic 
and the rejoicing birds

Snaking queues
Beep-beep-beep
No fuckin’ way
I already had two anxiety attacks today
One plotting deadlines on a calendar
checking today’s date around thirty times
Another upon catching the headline
of 30-day border closures
I might die of panic or indignation
before any respiratory virus

Across the empty playground 
toward the newsagent
careful not to instinctively grasp
the cool metal gates

Moïen
je cherche le chewing gum
C’est juste en face de vous
Ah oui, vous avez raison
I push the coins across the counter
under the new glass screen
C’est bien que vous avez mis ça, bravo
Two light knocks of a knuckle
I didn’t need to do that
Oui je l’ai mis ce matin
As I walk to the door
I celebrate his precaution
and our separation
Obrigado, muito obrigado

Back to the supermarket 
for a second try
One foot in
same foot out

Up Rue du Cimetière
towards the Assyrian épicerie
where I sometimes stop 
to buy cardamom coffee
Suddenly I realise
I’m nonchalantly walking 
bang in the middle of the road
as I do back in Qrendi

Closed, empty, À VENDRE
Ostja madonna
Fuck it
I still have some pitta bread
olive oil
and plenty of za'atar from Ḥayfa
Shokran, ya Najwan

Further up, a grocery still open
with fruit and veg in the street
Plenty of greens
but the nuclear orange carrots
detonate another explosion
of multilingual expletives

I cross over to the square
Police car down the road
Not sure if during lockdown 
it’s legal to sit on a bench
or if I could justify it 
as part of a “marche de loisir”
but I don’t feel like going home yet

Guess I should avoid the benches
of stone and metal
I sit on the edge of the waterless fountain
opposite the church
The virgin has one hand pointing left
the other pointing up

BONA ViA
SiS
MARiA

6:25 on the clock tower 
I imagine the mid-19th century Italians
who came to build the railways
spilling out the doors after mass

I could fly out in three hours
one plane, two airports
absorb poison like a sponge
then inadvertently let drip
and let rip
in an East London tower of flats

Crows perched on a crane 
are either cawing or cackling with mirth
as if the Virus were consciously designed
to clear the skies of jet engines
target frequent travellers
punish us for stifling the planet
by going for our lungs
An ultramicroscopic creature
putting homo sapiens sapiens to shame

I did not choose to live between three countries
it just happened
Will I have to wait for a vaccine
before I can press my love close again
or anybody else 
Will I need to drown in a hospital bed
and swim up to the surface 
with an umbilical pipe
for a recovery certificate
or doctor’s stamp in my passport

Distance relationships
are now more than the norm
The thought that remaining apart
is the best way to stick together
deepens my longing

Fuck it
Might as well sticker hunt
on the walk home
to recolour my thoughts

Siren’s Call 
some kind of music festival
Qalbi I hear you singing
as another plane climbs above Bonnevoie
Aaaa to tie my whole being
to this metal lamppost

Antifa Area, Goodnight White Pride
Unknown friends, villmolls merci

United for Climate Justice
The crows cackle on

Refugees Welcome 
almost faded
You can barely distinguish the legs
or the word Welcome
This is where we’re at now
The right to breathe
is fast becoming a privilege

--- 

#timezones #walking #covid19

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