Shopping With Virus. A Poem by Neil O’Sullivan

A sphincter clenched
Tight enough
To pull the skin off his nose
He negotiated the aisles
Like the last clean man
In a roomful of lepers

Every breath a gut clench
Sudden proximity flinches
Like a urinal sidesplash

He learned about smooth handling
Trolley angling,
Negotiating circumference

Normally a smiler, nodder,
How do you do-er
He thrust his gaze tilewards
Or on the horizontal
Away then away again
Like a spectator
At a game of imaginary tennis

Loading the conveyor
While leaning back
At a seventy five degree angle
He limbo’d his way past the cashier
Scanned his card from near outer space

And slammed his trolley
Into as few social distancers
That awkwardly littered the walkway
As he could possibly manage
At the accelerated velocity
He calculated necessary
For minimal exposure
Maximum evasion

He loaded the trunk
With his head wrapped in bin liners
Sat in the front seat smeared
From nostrils to nuts in hand sanitizer
His skin slowly blueing
In a few minutes, zod willing, he thought
I might be able to breathe again.

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