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.