Grocery Shopping in the New World
The future used to seem limitless
but now I can’t see past 14 days.
Two-week wait for online grocery delivery.
We have the essentials
but I indulgently crave bananas.
Is it worth braving the snow, the microbes,
the condemning looks of neighbours
as they peek out from their blinds?
I poll everyone for their needs, wants
and substitutes. Who knows which shelves
will be empty today? I add yeast to the list.
Creating a sourdough starter is an act of faith
I never needed until now.
I clear and disinfect a counter. Order everyone
to treat it like a surgery table. Do not touch.
When I return, laden with bags and worry,
I need a safe spot for cleaning. To sanitize
everything from out there before we use it
in here. Wipe boxes, scrub cans, bathe
fresh produce in a soapy sink, like I did my babies.
When I return, I’ll throw my gloves and mask
in the garbage bin. Leave my boots at the door.
Strip and carry my sullied clothes down to the laundry room.
Wash my hands, I’ve lost count how many times today.
Clean everything I think I touched.
When I return, I won’t answer my kids when they
ask me how it was. Craving some taste of the
outside world more than the chocolate ice cream
they’re watching me unload from the bag.
How can I tell them that no one smiles, not
even the ones without masks? That no one even
makes eye contact? That store aisles now
islands of solitude — only one person at a time
may survey soup selections. That every product
selection comes with risk mitigation. Strategy.
Can I reach that box of cereal at the back
without touching any others?
can we last