of peas and beans, conducting triage
among the carrots, and lamenting
leaves of lettuce slyly turned dark and sinister
in the furthest corner of the crisper
before we could salvage them.
No longer do we throw bits
of day-old bread into the yard
for the birds, and the few bones
we still toss for a local stray
are now sucked clean of meat and marrow,
the gristle mashed between our molars.
Our table manners have started
to resemble those of deceased French
relatives, survivors of the Second World War:
eating half an apple each, instead of one whole,
reheating yesterday’s coffee or cooking the leaves
of dandelions gathered near the door.
Each a strategy to push back the dreaded
trip to the store for supplies.
Each item a potential pack of poison
in our hands and in our home.
The skin on those hands grown
scaly from washing.
Weeks in and friends
are already calling less and less,
the “what ifs” too unthinkable.
Too many things not to think about.
Days wasted worrying.
Nights spent deep in despair.
We are being told to use this time
to take stock of ourselves and our habits.
But how to take stock
amid the daily death counts,
the warnings and the precautions still
possibly not enough to protect us?
The triage in my pantry is so petty
compared to the choice so many others
are having to make; who lives and who dies?
Who gets help and who doesn’t?
A tragedy for those who give care
and now must so often withhold it.
Andrea Dejean lives and writes in southwestern France. Her poem, ‘Woman Writing on a Window’ was published on The Voices Project website in February 2019.