by Jennifer Dotson
Jennifer Dotson is the founder and program coordinator for www.highlandparkpoetry.org. Her debut collection, Clever Gretel, received the Journal of Modern Poetry First Book Award and was published by Chicago Poetry Press in 2013. Her poems have been published in After Hours, East on Central, Exact Change Only, and Poetry CRAM/Journal of Modern Poetry.
The television doesn’t work anymore
but the news anchor’s stricken face
lingers in our mind as she announced
the station’s final broadcast because
the pandemic was destroying
everything and everyone.
The first days as the disease touched
down on U.S. soil with the return of
weary health workers from the shores
of Death the future was still before us.
Then mobs shouted Quarantine and
Containment. The government set up
shelters and field hospitals which were
quickly consumed as the streets filled
with bodies and blood spreading
infection. Scientists couldn’t discover
a cure for the pathogen rampage.
Now we wait holding hands in the
shadows. I wish for the sudden certainty
and quick end that Pompeii’s people
knew. We could be that couple
buried in smoke and ash. Our bodies’
intimate embrace creating a void
for future archeologists to make
plaster molds inspiring others with
our passion in spite of pending Death.
But the fever is in our bloodstream
carving out voids in our insides, in our
DNA and our skin is become paper thin
that too much touch is too hard to bear.
Just the press of hot palms and
fingers as we shake and shiver
parched and waiting for oblivion.
We do not wish to be alone when
the End arrives.