by Mickie Kennedy
Is it too late at 50 years of age to plant roots
and form the kind of friendships that desire
an audience with a dying man, waiting hours
by a bed until he wakes and eats
a bit of vanilla pudding? I suspect it’s not
but life remains a cracked vase that still
holds water, an oven mitt on standby
as the oven timer counts down. It’s a game of
not knowing what to do and just following
the logical conclusions. The spark
of progression stymied by the things more
difficult to do: a will, an advanced directive,
a list of passwords and bank account numbers.
It is the quiet of morning, the time for getting
stuff done when just me and my ego
just let go and drift the morning paper,
the news of more dead in almost every state,
the ones who had friends, the ones who did not,
all dying the same—alone in hospital beds
as nurses play a game of whack-a-mole
against a simple snippet of genetic code.
The virus mutates as they all do, cutting
expressions on and off, testing the breakers
for something that keeps the lights on.
Why do viruses kill their hosts? Because
they are not alive, because they are playing
a long game of set and reset, until they find
a suitable host where stasis takes place,
perhaps a bat, where perhaps this all began.
Humans are a simple casualty of viral adaptation,
caught in a shell game millions of years old.
A period of 100 years where no pandemic,
just a coffee break where on the sidelines
the virus collects its things and decides
its time to network and make friends.
I wash my hands. I sanitize the door knobs.
Still, in my lungs, an errant scrap of wind
begins to rearrange itself into molecules,
a speck the size of a housefly on a house
begins the transfer of power.