Come In

You put your mask and your shield on,

Gloved hands and sanitizer on the side.

Wet and dry tissues are in your bag,

Your own tumbler to drink from,

Be it coffee or water to quench your thirst.

You wipe the red sofa in my living

Room, hoping not to catch any

Virus or bacteria or fungi or mere dirt.

You politely, hesitantly ask if you may

Use my bathroom or sink, if I don’t mind.

Of course I will allow you to, eventhough

I worry you might contaminate

The steril and uber clean floors, walls,

And every surface I can get my hands on.

You are on guard at all times;

I am too because your

Overall presence makes me anxious.

For all its worth, why do you make

This visit, unwanted by both of us?

Considering all things, it’s harder

For me to say, “Please come in”

These past six hundred days.

The fear is shadowing us, no matter

How vaccinated or religiously

Hygienic you are, or how diligently

You take your vitamins, have enough

Sleep, and keep a very healthy diet.

The worry is lurking in the corner

Of our minds, playing out the endless

Possibilities, running wildly along

With our suspicion, taking advantage

Of our doubt, questioning if we really

Know someone: whom he’s been meeting,

What he’s been doing, whether he’s healthy

Or not, up to the second he’s face to face

With another person, like in our situation

Right now, during this darn pandemic.

As if you can read my mind, you ask

If we can just go out and meet

At some place else like a cafe.

As if coming out of my safe den is the

Easiest thing to do for me these days.

I even rarely come out to be in

My front garden and water my plants,

So scared of catching the virus or somehow

Getting infected without realizing it.

How can I step out of the front door

And drive to the jungle of uncertainties,

A battlefield of being healthy or slightly

Sick or on the verge of dying?

So, I shake my head and decline

Your most likely hastily made

Suggestion, or perhaps an impulse

To seek companion to face the world

Outside because you are also

Shaking with fear for the virus,

But you’re also dying with boredom

Of staying inside for too long.

So, you leave and promise to come

Back another day, hopefully when

The virus has been contained and

It is deemed safe to meet up, shake

Hands, hug, or even peck the

People we love and miss so dearly.

I say nothing to your plan, but I joyously

Wave my hands at your departure.

I’m so relieved that now you’re gone

And I start spraying disinfectant and

Wiping everywhere you are and

Everything you may have touched

During that short and stressful social call.

Then I realize that the pandemic has

Made me forget how I relate with

People, how to talk to them freely, well

Not as freely as before with my mask

On and every physical distancing sign

I see every time I turn my head.

Now I enjoy talking on my phone more,

Hiding behind a set of name and profile

Picture, rather than meeting anyone

Face to face, up, close, and personal.

Phone conversation allows me to connect

And disconnect as easily as pressing the

Green and light buttons, which reminds

Me of the popular child game.

Phone conversation allows me to limit

With whom I want to interact and ignore,

Giving peace of mind for an accutely

Introverted and overthinking person

Like myself, before or after the pandemic.

And most importantly, phone conversation

Freeds me up from the worry of accidentally

Inviting some virus or bacteria or

Fungi or mere dirt into my home, into

The living space I have wholeheartedly

Guarded, maintained, and sanctified.

So, forgive me if on your next visit I

Will apologetically not smile at you

And say “Come in” anymore.

Instead I will start a chat with you the day

Before, on the green application we use

So often to connect or disconnect

Anytime with anyone we want,

To confirm that for the time being I

will neither go out nor invite you in.

The risk is too much and I love myself,

My health, my life, much more than I value

Our friendship, this fragile relationship

People can start and end these days

As easily as pressing some buttons.

I hope you understand how long I

Will need to let you come in again.

Perhaps sometime in the blue moon, but

Definitely not in the near future.

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