Jul/Aug 2020  •   Poetry  •   Special Feature

Quarantine Poem with a Picnic

by Jennifer Finstrom

Quarantine Poem with a Picnic

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.

     —Philip Larkin, "Aubade"

In mid-July, it will be a full year since you
downloaded a dating app. You couldn't know
you elected to change your life on the eve
of a pandemic and now can't separate the two.
Lately your days go better when you wake up
early, get out and walk, read as if you're
drowning in it like you used to in the long
unhappiness with your ex-husband. You've
had no virtual first dates during these
months but just yesterday, you met a man
you started seeing before this happened
for a picnic near your apartment, brought
two travel mugs of mimosas and lunch from
Moody's Pub. You both sat on the grass near
the beach, and it might have been an ordinary
summer day: clouds smudging the sky, lake
full of boats, people everywhere. You put on
lipstick to eat, the first time you've worn it
outside since this began, adjusted your sun hat
in the wind, reclined on the blanket, imagined
a painting of a picnic. The sugar in your drink
was warm and orange, and this enforced stasis
has given you the unexpected safety net
of not having to make decisions about dating,
about whether to keep meeting people and
how many. You're floating like one of those
boats out there, motionless, the water still,
not hoping for anything but a bit more time.



Previous Piece Next Piece