In the Leper Colony (Notes from a Covid Ship)
19 April 2021


It’s here.  

Two days ago it carried 
away one of the crew.  

Now he claws the walls 
of a quarantine hotel room 
in The Canadian Soo.


Daily we are vetted.
Our sinuses scoured.
Is it manifest within us?
Who’ll be next?
It’s hard not to wonder.

We coat surfaces 
with disinfectant that parches 
the back of throats 
and leaves our fingertips 
without purchase.

Our faces are covered
when they weren’t before.
Noses stream 
and each breath comes
hot and damp against the cloth,
like everybody else’s ashore.


This is no bogeyman
with vulpine eyes
and slathering jowls.
They say, it is a hundred times
smaller than the tip
of a human hair.

We hunt it 
with a big green gun 
that emits a low moan
and inclement
clouds of vapor.


“As much as possible 
avoid contact with others,
maintain your distance, 
wash your hands vigilantly.
And of course, it goes without saying,
the gym is closed until further notice.” 

We have become 
Saint Lazarus’ unwitting disciples, 
the ship, our floating lazaretto.
Cloistered away in cabins.
Alone with our phones, our tv’s 
and pornography.  


A fly on the wall will tell you 
that when half a man’s face is covered, 
the eyes are not just the window to the soul, 
they are the barometer of his emotions.

So are their words…

‘This is bullshit,’ a fly overhears one crew member say.

Another replies,

‘Buddy, this place is bullshit on a good day.’