That day in March, trees said spring is just around the corner.
Daffodils bloomed. I hated to make the phone call.
Trip alone to urgent care, set up by health department nurse:
see to the bad cough, worse day by day, trouble breathing,
time to worry, find help quick.
Park in back, in sight of the side door. Wait. Staff will meet you.
What car are you driving? What time will you get there?
Almost dark that night in March, I backed into a parking spot, watched the door.
Full PPE, a person spoke from behind layers of mask and helmet:
Bring only car key and billfold. Into exam room, vitals and tests:
You don ’t have the flu. You do have strep throat. We can’t test for Covid 19,
there’s a shortage. Hospital? I preferred not.
I heard the phone call to another doc: Just making sure,
don’t think we need inpatient admission. What do you think?
I held my breath. No, I don’t think she needs the ventilator.
Antibiotic. First dose now. You can go home. Stay alone. You ’re quarantined,
in case you have coronavirus. Send a neighbor to a drug store tomorrow
for the rest of your antibiotic. Don ’t go yourself, not even the drive-through window.
If you have trouble breathing tonight, don’t wait for it to get worse. Cal l 911.
Tell them you are quarantined, so paramedics can prep, full PPE.
Stars came out. I made it home. Nurse and PA daily phone calls were my lifeline
till wellness alone won me over. Back to work. Two days later, work from home, risk
seems all too much. One week later: You were near someone exposed to the virus.
Come get tested, quarantine alone till results. One week later: Negative was one happy word.
Mary Ricketson, Murphy NC, has been writing poetry 25 years. Inspired by nature and her work as a mental health counselor, her poetry has been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, Future Cycle Press, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Lights in the Mountains, Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, Red Fox Run, It’s All Relative, Old Mountain Press, Whisper s, Voices, Speckled Trout Review, The Lake, Your Daily Poem, and her chapbook I Hear the River Call my Name (Finishing Line Press), and three full length poetry collections, Hanging Dog Creek (Future Cycle Press), and Shade and Shelter (Kelsay Books), Mississippi: The Story of Luke and Marian (Kelsay Books). She won first place in the 2011 Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest 75th anniversary national poetry contest. She writes a monthly column, Women to Women, for The Cherokee Scout weekly newspaper in Cherokee County NC. She is a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, working on the phone from home during the pandemic, and she maintains an organic blueberry farm.