Hands in the time of pandemic

Rudy Wiebe


whyte avenue is a raw march photograph     nothing moves     a pickup mutters
at the intersection     no person visible on blocks of sidewalk     only grey
light-wired trees     only me held erect by my hands wobbly search for two-
cane balance     so this is the world and here i     the pickup leaps at the light

go home and stay home wash your hands droplets physical distancing do not

the 104 street green light is long enough for my shufobble walk     a long one
-cane man coming fast     shirtsleeves in the cold     his right arm dangles like a
limp hose     its bare hand flapping madly     good morning i say  good he
says too near my left ear good and miserable     i turn slowly     he strides on
into red o dearest god will my hand sink into that trembling-aspen shudder

not touch your face self isolate COronaVIrusDisease 2019 sanitize ppe stay

mayday on 106 street offers three distanced joggers     also two dogs white
bristle and tan smooth  tugging a brown girl reading her phone     i rest in my
wheeled walker     watch bristle’s nose sweep the grass and stop     he pounds
his shoulder down his paws claw him into the smell of that spot while tan
anoints an ash and the girl’s thumbs fly texting     my blue hands inter-lace
themselves     the infinity of things hands can do beyond paws    unimaginable

stay the blazes home alta crude 3.72 a barrel work from home we’re all in

yes     sixty years ago i worked from home searching for my first novel in a
manual typewriter inside one windowless room of our basement apartment
on 109 street     but today even in viral isolation a brown girl with dogs can
hold the known world in her hands pocket it handy and snug on her buttocks

in this together flatten the curve 7 of 10 deaths in care homes face masks the

incredible     seven weeks shufobbling in old strathcona an hour a day and the
change in my pocket is unchanged     but immeasurably more important is
home     my sheene taunte     lovely lady in my first language in our 3 storey
house where our daughter and granddaughter  whose own house is 9 feet
from ours     excellent physical distancing     come laughing to our back porch
and hand us home-baked bread and groceries and the front-yard apple tree
will bud with the first droplets of spring rain and we lift our hands to each
other in love and wave the song without the words and never stop at

the new normal testing elbow bump caremongering ventilator virtual care

pestilence     no human sense can find it     all you need do is breathe     you can
also bow your head into your hands and pray     o creator     have mercy on us

MAYDAY COVID-19 PEOPLE      edmonton    498 infected     12 dead
alberta     5,573 infected     92 dead     canada    55,573 infected
3,346 dead     world   3,420,000 infected
239,603 dead

no     these numbers shall never have the last word

                                          trust   work   compassion   hope


Rudy Wiebe was born in Saskatchewan. He is the author of novels, short stories, essays, poetry and children's books. He has twice won the the Governor General's award for fiction.

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