By Jodi Lundgren
Pandemic Camping: Three Haiku
two fill a small tent
hard-hearted words, cramped bodies
square feet versus us
a chilly dawn finds
our sleeping bodies spooning
peace warmth love light heart
morning tea outdoors
the road to recovery?
searching gas fire’s flames
1. A Dream
A woman knocks on the door of a motel suite
where my mom and I shelter from Covid.
She ducks her chin at a clipboard
hugged to her chest.
“We don’t want to sign or handle anything.
Mom, eighty-nine but full of spunk, darts out.
The solicitor hooks her shoulders, draws her close.
“Get away! You could kill her! Don’t you listen
to Health Officers, follow city bylaws,
obey resort guidelines?”
I drag Mom back inside
but men have usurped our kitchen.
One tends stovetop pots,
a pair at the counter chops
others play cards at the table.
“You’re not in our bubble,” I tell them.
“Stay six feet away!”
Outside, Clipboard Lady joins forces
with a friend: they jeer.
Near the door lies a long wooden stick
nailed with crosspieces like prongs.
I grab and hold it spear-like at waist-height.
She says, “This is about to get interesting.”
I lunge and thrust, bellowing,
“Don’t you know how to social distance?”
She skitters away at last,
but turns her head to pull a face
Antlers sharp as pitchfork tines lift and lower:
the buck’s grey-brown coat matches the fence.
He flicks one foreleg up under him, up under him.
Each time he kicks his hoof stomachward
his body jerks; the other three legs shift,
Heavy, graceless, he telegraphs hurt.
Was he hit by a car, hip broken?
Ravaged by another rutting buck?
At last he flips his hoof:
his front knees buckle, right hind leg goes,
then left flank thunders down.
His chest heaves, pain radiates.
I move to shut the window
left open all night
and his neck twists—
those great antlers pivot
his black eyes lock mine,
label me: Threat.
Once I back away, he licks his side,
can’t reach the injured hip.
If he did, would saliva even help?
He secludes himself behind my house
but the narrow exit carries risk.
Yesterday, a small-antlered deer stood sentry,
surprised me carrying groceries to the door.
We both froze as he eyed me—alien biped.
He glanced backwards and his legs twitched, ready to bolt.
Now the old buck rests alone,
no one to scare off intruders or alert him.
I tiptoe inside the house.
I barely make a sound.
He hears and feels everything.
He stares it all down.
Jodi Lundgren lives on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples on Canada’s West Coast. She is faculty advisor for the student publication Beside the Point and author of the novels Touched and Leap.
Photo: Adam Marsh
I wrote “Pandemic Camping” to express the strain that months of being cooped up can put on relationships. Even though these haiku refer to voluntary camping, they also evoke the situations of the many unhoused people who have had to shelter in tents during the pandemic. “Sheltering” similarly touches on the psychological toll (whether conscious or unconscious) the pandemic has taken on how we view others. Parallels exist to wild urban animals, who fear humans and distance from us even while needing to shelter nearby.