It starts with a text from a friend,
one that makes me instantly regret my last two refills from the water fountain,
the enemy snaking through the walls of the house,
the plate of food in front of me is now suspect,
the glass of water next to it, poison with a lemon wedge.
News-releases and instant panic—
some say it’s coal mining waste,
others, the brain eating amoeba—
washing one’s hands after going to the bathroom is now a pyrrhic victory.
The next day,
panic at the Costco,
the specter of giardia—
I’m reminded of an AP newswire story:
“aid trucks mobbed,”
the subtle coding of racism in objective reporting—
The pallets of water are right in the front of the store,
a woman repeating, “I need more bottles for my cats!”
my own adrenalin rush because they opened early,
disgust at the man filling up the entire back of his Range Rover,
shame, because I’m doing pretty much the same thing.
The quickened steps, glassy eyes of casual terror—
the fragile membrane of civilization, so easily torn.
Welcome to the new normal.