Five Days of Fear

Sooner or later, it eats you up
and you’re rolling out of bed at three in the morning
to check the twitter feeds again for key words
close locations.

On the Skytrain, everyone’s a blinking hazard light,
the floors are made of lava and the handholds are
electrified.
More so than ever before,
you don’t touch anyone.

At work, you hit the refresh button
on the news sites like an exercise routine.
CNN, BBC, CBC on repeat
like the Greatest Hits to your confidence
your very-shakeable sense of safety.
New reports on the daily, the agonizing microscopic details
unfold like a flowchart for disasterpieces.

You wonder who among your friends will get it first,
if you’ll find out at a dinner party when they lurch out of sight
for the fifth time, and someone has the foresight
to leave while the getting’s good.
Maybe it’s a family member, calling up
to say they’re going into quarantine awhile.
Stiff upper lips dissolve into machine gun questions
as anxiety blossoms into beautiful, cold-clawing terror.

And maybe it’s her, sleeping beside you
coming home one day from work with a fever
and spiralling out into something worse, you say your goodbyes
through the glass in the isolation ward
you make arrangements.
You pace the midnight hours away
sweating out your
farthest flung fears like an alcoholic
sifting through the empties for one
last
drop.

The worst thing about having a cineplex imagination
is that something there’s nothing on but disaster flicks.
House fires from stoves you erroneously forgot to kill,
Emptied studies after an open window turns into an invitation
One day, someone just doesn’t come back from work,
no explanation, no au reverse, just a name on a ticker
in the one-year-later memoriam special on the news,
while pundits bicker about what should have been done.

This isn’t a preview of coming attractions, though.
There are horrors, but they don’t all
converge in the same afternoon.
There are wolves in the dark but they’re oft content to stay there.
Sooner or later, you pull yourself together,
quit the compulsive scratching for another hit of paranoia
and take a walk in the fall leaves,
crunch a few Golden Oldies
remember the rays of the sun
and that there’s so much that’s still, and will always be
out of your control.

Like always, the Bard said it best:

“If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.”

Get some rest. You look like you could use it.

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