Losing It

By Jennifer Crystal

It starts with carrots
Mindlessly dipping them in hummus I notice
Nothing

I scoff at the bag
Tasteless
Nothing fresh these days
Nothing

Dinner tastes blank
Chicken, rice, sautéed spinach
My tongue searches for seasoning
For lemon, for zest, for garlic
For tart, for salty, for bitter,
For the familiar
For something
Nothing

I lift the chicken under my nose
Inhale thyme
I think
Neighbors likely scoff at me now
Crazy in isolation
Nothing

Panic gurgles in my throat
That, I taste: dry like chalk
Fly to the kitchen
Fling open spices
Sniff ‘til I snort, desperate
Basil, oregano, curry, pepper, onion powder
Should be an overstimulating mix
I’m overwhelmed by
Nothing

Scented candles!
Burst open
Banana Bread, Cinnamon Stick, Kiss of France
Hold them to my face
Remember
Inhale
Nothing

Not even wax
Not brown bananas
Not cans of tuna fish pouring putrid oil over my fingers
Not garbage rotting under the sink
Not the cracked can of salsa that drips down the fridge for days
I notice only when it pools on the vegetables
Otherwise notice
Nothing

Blank weeks blended together
Just fine.
So easily I shifted
To survival mode
The body remembers

To rest, to nourish, to hydrate, to breathe
To call, to cancel, to wash, to test
To get through

It started with acrid burning
Regurgitated sweet potato fries, slimy beet burger
Hurtling up the digestive tract they’d slid down two nights earlier
Stinging my nostrils
Setting the course

Fever, nightsweats, thirst
Dry
Hacking cough, sore lungs, shortness of breath
The body remembers

To rest, to nourish, to hydrate, to breathe
To call, to cancel, to wash, to test
To get through

Four weeks going on five
Lonely, frustrating, tiring
But fine.
Just fine.
The body remembers

Has the sense
To act
But doesn’t understand blank
Nothing
Should be a relief
I have Covid for sure

Instead blank
Unleashes the dam
Body crumpling
Fists banging
Tears streaming
Chest heaving
Mouth gasping

For the one who left me here
Alone.

I am a writer, educator, and patient advocate based in Boston, MA. 

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Izzy Lamb
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Izzy Lamb
30 days ago

Brilliant, so visceral, so alarming. The repetitions of “nothing” and “the body remembers” really underline the days and days just slipping away.

Janet Banks
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Janet Banks
30 days ago

This is so real and immediate, Jennifer. So well done!

Michael Judson-Carr
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Michael Judson-Carr
30 days ago

THAT IS ME! Nice work, Jennifer! Keep that poetry flowing! Michael musiciansfchildrenwithlyme.com

Isabel Phillips
Guest
Isabel Phillips
1 month ago

So stunningly grounded in sensory particulars that it is painfully evocative. I feel the invisible wall between those suffering from COVID-19 in isolation, and those watching the pandemic unfold, in lockdown, from the comfort of their homes, on TV news. Crucial memories to mark the horrors of COVID-19 from the isolated patient perspective.

Robert Milby
Guest
1 month ago

Fascinating! Tactile, visceral, kinetic, and sensual.
There is a vibrant, realism about the challenges and struggle presented.
Your reader is present.

betty morningstar
Guest
betty morningstar
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Milby

You bring the reader closer to this overwhelming experience than almost any prose or other reporting can do, and quicker. Stunning.

Robert Milby
Guest
1 month ago

As writers, we must always validate life with all of the successes and failures each person experiences.

Let us know what you think of the Poetry and Covid project by completing this short survey… thank you!

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