Pandemic Travel                                                                      by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg 

Mask in my right hand, sanitizer in my left,  
I venture through the Kwik Shop doors  
somewhere in rural Missouri where no one believes  
in pandemics, only conspiracies.  
Breath to breath, so many scenarios spark danger  
and damaged lungs, fear too late at a a gas station  
gaslighting me or am I gaslighting it?  
I strap on my cloth mask with sliver moons  
parading across where my lips would be.  
In the bathroom awash in antiseptic, one small  
ant near the ceiling vanishes into the vanishing  
point. I count slowly to eighteen as I wash,  
elbow-open the door, and quick-deer it back  
to the safe cosmos of the car’s front seat.  
The raindrops change from long scribbles  
to large empty eyes the windshield wipers  
can’t keep up with, just like me, trying to clear  
the weather by angling toward the blank space.  
Where have I been traveling all these years,  
my hands on the wheel want to know.  

This poem was previously published in  How Time Moves: New and Selected Poems

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 23 books, including Miriam’s Well, a novel; Everyday Magic: A Field Guide to the Mundane and Miraculous, and Following the Curve, poetry. Her previous work includes The Divorce Girl, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir on cancer and community; and six poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather with photographer Stephen Locke. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely.

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  


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