Questions for the Quarantine

by Rhonda Zangwill, Workshop Leader

Is your mask impermeable? Impermeable to what? To air?
Does it filter, purify, sanctify? Are you impermeable? To me, to my moods? What about my slings and arrows?

And what of the undulating microwaves? From kitchen to bed to bath and back to bed. Do you want to go back to bed? With, or without me? With or without a mask?

Is this a high touch surface? Is that? Don’t you miss the depths? The digging, the excavating? All those layers? Will they still peel back now, today, after all that…Disinfection?

Did you miss a spot? Is that the spot that will invade, insert? Maybe adhere? Or will it just drop by for a visit, depositing nothing?

Will it dissipate into a thousand inconsequential, insignificant ions, capable of no deadly mutation?

When will it become no more than ordinary matter?
And when it does, will it matter?


The Oracle

I consulted the oracle this morning. No appointment. I knew this was wrong, but it was an emergency. Time was fleeting.

She was sunbathing. In a kidney-shaped pool. Wearing tiny black eye protectors. She gave no sign that I was there. She was tossing pinto beans into the shallow end, each creating little concentric circular waves.

I heard that to get her attention, an offering was necessary. The rumor was that she favored sliced mangoes but this season all the mangoes had withered. Instead I had Prosecco and an exquisite champagne flute. It was well known that the oracle had a weakness for carbonation.

I placed the glass, brimming with bubbles, on the pool’s smoothest edge.

I had prepared questions sure to appeal to her reputation for philosophical conundrum. Clearing my throat, I asked: “What kind of times are these? Are these the times that try men’s souls?”

Then I added “How about women’s?” The oracle did not respond.

I tried again, refilling her glass. “Are you having the time of your life? Am I? Is anyone?”

Still, nothing. No response. Also no more pinto beans.

The oracle frowned.

Maybe, I thought, a more whimsical approach. Maybe a fairy tale. “Once upon a time,” I said, “time stood still.” I waited. Just when the silence was nearly unbearable I announced (with a mischievous look) “then it marched on. In a huff. But, is it true what they say? Is it true that time heals all wounds?”

The Oracle stared at the empty champagne flute. “Time’s up,” she said. And then she submerged, leaving only a steady stream of bubbles on the surface of the pool.