Calculated Risk

This post was originally published in March 2020, when we were still innocent, unscathed and unscarred, hopeful, confused, wary, and frightened. Comparing and contrasting from a year ago, what’s changed since then? What do you think?

~~~  ~~~  ~~~  ~~~

So many ways to die, I think, as I walk out my door
The proverbial bus
A stroke, a heart attack, cancer, acute appendicitis
You have your own favorites I’m sure.

If not death, then discomfort and suffering
At the grandkids’ school
Pinworms, head lice, chicken pox, norovirus
We went to get our shingles vaccine.
Weirdest date ever, says my husband.

You take your life in your hands when you enter a store, an office.
Are there wipes for the shopping cart handle?
Can I touch the stair railing? The credit card buttons?
Did I touch my face? Did they?

Cancellations swell. Travel, festivals, conventions, marathons, schools
Small gatherings make us nervous
We fist bump, foot shake, wave, stand ten feet away, cough into our elbow
Wait, did he sniffle? Did she sneeze?
We all smell of alcohol, and not the pleasant kind.

I wash my hands obsessively, compulsively
Some might say, like a crazy person!
But now it’s normal, a shared ritual
Times have changed, we’re all crazy.

As I wash
Billions of others, world-wide, wash with me and
I’m reminded of Passover seder, when Jews celebrate
All at about the same time
Having done so for thousands of years
From generation to generation, from country to country, home to home
It’s what bonds us as Jews.
Well, that and the persecution.

My mother-in-law’s assisted living home is closed to visitors
This is what it takes to stay alive today, this week, this year.
And what it takes to not be a carrier, and kill another.
How would I live with that?

My skin, already old and wrinkled, is shriveling and shrinking.
Skin once supple, sensuous, sensitive
Barely holds in my innards, splitting layers of epidermis
For twenty seconds at a time I look at the skin
Of my grandmother, my aging father, now mine.
From generation to generation.

Words of warning stream in
From the clinic, doctor, gym, choir, airlines, yoga, the media – fake, social, and otherwise
From everyone in the government
Well, except the President.

Some advice simple
Washing, touching, sanitizer, you know the drill.
Others draconian
Change your clothes after being out, wipe off your steering wheel, your phone
Don’t let people pet your dog. YOUR DOG!
Where have you been, I want to ask, whom have you touched?

Funny people are the helpers.
“Yeah, no, sorry,” Weird Al Yankovic tweeted. “Not gonna do My Corona”
That’s too bad, someone answered. It would go viral.
Others: “In 1960 people were saying we’ll have flying cars… in 2020 we’re watching videos on how to wash hands.”
“Dance like nobody’s watching, wash like everyone is.”

So many ways to live, I think.
Walk out the door, sunshine on my face
Miles under my feet
The glory of red currant buds open bigger every day
Magnolia buds shed their furry winter coats
White petals push out, a flourish, an exuberance
Robins hop up to the Cotoneaster
Grabbing bright red berries and
landing neatly underneath, eat.

I ask the checker at the grocery store how business is
Normal she said, why, what are you seeing?
Oh you know, people panicky, events cancelled
I didn’t mention the dead people.
She doesn’t read the news or go online
It’ll all be fine I’m sure, she said confidently. I just have that feeling.
Her face was calm, even glowing.
Thanks I said, that’s great.

Meat Clown panic-buying

10 thoughts on “Calculated Risk

  1. Wonderful! Amazing to see how this is affecting our daily lives in such similar ways (except the part of the president of course😉). Good to know that you are well😘


  2. OH Nancy,
    What a treat to see your new blog posting during unprecedented and uncertain times. A sheer joy to read your reflection snd flow with your images . Keep the missives coming!


  3. Ha. That aging skin stuff is truly disturbing. My COVID nightmares now include rehearsing my farewells – my old nightmares always involved drowning so I am especially vulnerable to worst case scenarios at this time. I did realize last night that reassuring my 3 and 5 year old grandsons that I would be their angel when I die was meaningless so I have to come up with some kind of ninja warrior protector identity. LOL. I’ll work on that tonight.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. just read this one right after the WOM/Portland one — you encapsulated so beautifully the unease we all had at the beginning of COVID. The tragedy is how accustomed and yet STILL unaccustomed we are to the unease we STILL HAVE! <–attempt at English, but failing miserably. I really liked "Dance like nobody’s watching, wash like everyone is." love you N!

    Liked by 1 person

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