The First Morning of Quarantine

we are standing feet apart between thorny rose vines, some
potted sapling trees. A child, unaware the rules, breathes in,
chokes out, weaving too close to our knees.

To travel through time you must be comfortable with
pressure: the tingling as atoms displace.

Since isolation was asked of us, I’ve been invited to more gatherings than
I have in weeks
, M said as C got tipsier and tipsier, sinking into
blankets, us all feet apart beside a fire. I’ve not heard her slur
words before. I couldn’t tell if it was good or bad. This
resistance to distance, I mean. This not taking it seriously

Time travel is a kind of choking on the body: your skin
cannot catch a breath.

Potted plants are dozens and dozens of dollars, so we leave
the store, collect seeds and broken shards of wood instead.
Compose a future in this way, with so much nailing and
digging, tugging dirt from where dirt comes.

People are going to talk and people are going to hoard and
we are going to wake pinched with new flushed cheeks.

Last night I stood drunk before a mirror, sharpied an outline
of who I am as I was then.

This morning, I buried shards in a garden store, certain new
could blossom good. Said This is just a precipice as I wrapped
my finger on a hanging vine, stroked the velvet of its purple

Click here to read Aimee Wright Clow on the origin of the poem.


Image: “Just another Saturday” by Ernest James, licensed under CC 2.0.

Aimee Wright Clow:
The day before stay-at-home orders were announced in Durham County, my partner and I walked through a garden store, testing out the new force fields we were to keep between ourselves and strangers. That afternoon a large number of friends and friends of friends came to our yard to build a garden, plans kept that we should have cancelled. That evening, six poets and I met outside Coco Cinnamon and wrote with empty chairs between ourselves. It was the second (last) meeting of a new generative writing group. The day had a still and ominous glow; surrounded by new friends, a feeling like life in this new city would have soon become full; but then the impending, the knowledge that we were about to walk into a historically significant rupture. I wanted to weave these two choking feelings, like vines up a skeleton-branch told to stand very still, to move only carefully. I twisted rubberbands around my arm, and I wrote this poem, with this group, at this table. Revisions happened slowly as context changed, as the current event became all consuming. How the braid could be paced and tempered. I still don’t know how to enter that precipice and say the right thing, but hindsight must pause at some point, and the voice then becomes a printed tree.

Aimee Wright Clow
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