Monday, September 25, 2023
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Ten Days of Quarantine (A Poem)

By Chief Turey

Day One

The nurse’s face follows me into the bedroom
from the free clinic, and i think of the click of her tongue
as I lock the door. How thin her mouth
must have been behind her mask, speaking to me
as if I were already dead.

Day Two

Before my eyes flutter open I’m overcome
with how heavy my body feels in a different bed.
I grab my phone to better bury the silence.
Plenty of opportunities to grieve the time
I’m about to kill.

My boyfriend brings me news
with a warm bowl of soup. There is no hot water
in the shower. I curse my landlord for breathing.

Day Three

Thorns in the throat. Green Tea with lemon to calm
the bats in my stomach. I do not know what’s worse,
the fear, or the doubt.

Sun Tzu said all warfare is based on deception,
so I must be at war with myself,
told myself too many times the dead don’t speak
for my mouth to not become my own assassin.

Day Four

Thorns in the mind. There are no more doors to lock.
No more windows to shutter. I’m as closed off
as I’ve ever been. A piece of me is buried
under the carpet, or chucked into the walls like a rat.
I cannot sleep for shutting out the sound of fingernails.

Day Five

Pain I can tolerate -- but silence? That’s why God invented
smart phones. I busy myself with someone else’s dying,
push my thumb through miles and miles of glass,
until my eyes become two graves.
I’ve had my fill of deception.
My mouth waters for rage.

Day Six

The things I’ve lost are never coming back.
A moment of silence for the missing underwear,
the basil on the windowsill. I make peace
with the lonesome numbers in my phone,
a different kind of burial. The friends I’ve ghosted.

How many rooms could I possibly haunt?

Day Seven

A police siren beats its red hands against my window.
I cannot see the scuffle, but I hear
the desperate shouts for help, the bold and bloody men
moving in for the slaughter.
I hear the sound of them breaking
the man’s head against the sidewalk -- knocking, like,
against the earth, demanding it
to open for another body. The ambulance, I assume,
is just a formality. Suddenly, someone is screaming,
distant and delirious. Maybe the ambulance
crawling into the distance like a blood fed wolf.

It hits me in the night, when my lungs
are raw and scraped.
I was the one screaming.

Day Eight

Grief makes of us a chain of memory --
after as many burials as we have seen,
as many fathoms of opened ground we have covered,
I have become a blacksmith for grief.

Day Nine

I don’t know what it is that I want,
but I know that I want it back.

Day Ten

Everywhere else in the house is Christmas.
In my room, it’s just gratitude to walk out of the darkest days of winter.
My mother calls me on the phone,
and I omit the part about my lungs still filling up with gasoline.
She is happy to see me on the other side of the killing field.
Sunlight creeps behind the trees and, once more, silence
visits the apartment, her face hidden behind a mask.
I watch her shadow flit beneath the door a while
before I let her inside.
                                                In the morning,
I greet the kitchen for a cup of tea.
My visitor has left a present for me on the counter,
by the oranges. A candle and a single match.
Like a spy in the daylight I walk out onto the porch.
There is still blood on the sidewalk.
I light the candle,
and the earth opens up.
Then I swallow the match.


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