The evolution, April
by J.I. Kleinberg
For a while, in the first months of the pandemic, you feared your hands: that they might be the engine of your destruction, grab from the air, from book or doorknob, newspaper or broccoli, the errant cell calling to your lungs. Those hands, lathered, rinsed, laundry hung out in a dust storm, dragged back in, washed again. And your face, itching, yearning for them, abandoned lover. Later, the air itself became suspect and you held your breath on the trail, in the grocery store, at the mailbox. Yet, shocked by your isolation, your fear of contamination, you came to enjoy the whims of unstructured days, the naps and chickadees and jigsaw puzzles. You called old friends, cleaned cupboards, ticked tasks off your list, learned new technology. You had no passport, no visa for the country called the future. The microorganism would stamp your documents, or not. So you gardened as if someone else might harvest the beautiful purple peapods, the lettuce, even the sudden radishes. And then, as predictions became less dire, you discovered a new fear: that life would return to normal.
by J.I. Kleinberg
Cast into this renewed banishment, you suck in a deep breath as if entering water, as if breath might save you from the danger of breathing. You’ve become a savant of menace, religionist of mask and hygiene, imperiled by life itself. But the swell grows, meltwater pounds at every shore, your meager life vest helpless in your defense. Where is invisibility and what protection does it offer from the unseen? You draw another breath to test your lungs and wonder how long you can remain here in your solitary sanctuary of air.
Feb 9 2021
Three-time nominee for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards, J.I. Kleinberg is an artist, poet, and freelance writer. Her poetry has appeared in December,One, Diagram, Otoliths, Pedestal, Psaltery & Lyre, and many other print and online journals. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, USA, and on Instagram @jikleinberg.