Pamela Murray Winters

Shelter in Place

In the reference room, under the scanner-printer,
wait the big plastic boxes, their sides transparent
to show their contents:

cans of light tuna, boxes of saltines.
I note, across one boxtop, an expiration date
four years, six months, twenty days ago.

When I open the medicine cabinet at home,
an amber tube rattles out, its label faded.
Ciprofloxacin. It, like me, is past its prime.

A friend’s office, in an agency we can’t
talk about, has stronger stuff, potions
for the ultimate personal decision.

Ten years on, I barely notice the Pentagon
on Virginia license plates, but I remember a day
when I stood in the yard, two houses ago,

and watched the sky. The planes kept us up at night.
I moved to the country, something I thought
I’d never do. Now I’m back in the city,

with horns and hollering and a diesel bus
at the curb, and there are days I’m still not sure
where to go, who to call, what home is, or was.

Pamela Murray Winters lives and works in Maryland. Her first full-length poetry collection, The Unbeckonable Bird, was published in June 2018 by FutureCycle Press.