Carol J. Jennings

The Viscosity of Corona Time: Carol Jennings

The Viscosity of Corona Time

The days become
slow moving water.
The mirror blurs
your face while
your mind can
barely skim
the surface
of anything.
Quarantine causes
numb spirit,
flattened affect,
seldom fatal.
And a glass of wine
may enhance
perception of
blended time.

Things change only in sleep
when you can walk close
to others, even touch
a stranger. In dreams,
the rules change –
there are no masks,
all intruders are visible.
Though the virus may
helicopter around you,
even light on your
hair or an eyelash,
it has not mutated to
invade the subconscious
of REM sleep.

In my childhood,
they warned against
swimming in the creek
because polio might lurk
in the water, waiting
to kill or cripple children.
But we did not wear
masks, and we could touch
almost anything.

Mother liked to tell
how she nearly died
in the 1918 epidemic.
In old age, she remained
angry at the doctor
who delivered
a grim prognosis
in deep voice
at the door of her room.

Father was a pharmacist
who instructed me about
proper hand washing,
cough covering,
germs that linger
invisible in the air,
flit person to person,
enter the body
like an evil spirit.
If he were alive,
he would work
through this epidemic,
count pills,
measure liquids,
mix compounds,
gloved and masked,
tell me too often
that he was right.

Carol J. Jennings was born and grew up in western New York State. She attended The College of Wooster, and received her B.A., M.A., and J.D. from New York University. She worked as an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection for more than 30 years. Now retired, she lives in Washington DC. Her poems have appeared in The New York Quarterly, Potomac Review, Oberon, Amelia, Chautauqua, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Loch Raven Review, and three anthologies. Her first poetry collection, The Dead Spirits at the Piano, was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2016.