Grocery Shopping During Pandemic

Grocery Shopping During Pandemic

There’s a strange quiet around my city.
Streets once filled with cars are barren.
Sidewalks empty.
Campus silent. Eerie.
Within this strange calm is a nervous buzz.
An energy. A dread.
We are mice, scurrying from shelter to shelter
Searching for food
Fearing attack from enemies unseen.
The parking lot is not empty
But finding space is easy,
Easier than it should be.
Masked figures walk quickly
Avoiding eye contact
As though the virus might leap
Through an unwary glance.
Signs announce the new normal.
“Maintain distance. Sanitize your hands.
New hours. Do not approach checkers.”
I enter a macabre party
Where masks cover mouths
And eyes flit quickly about.
I find myself walking faster
Agitated by the mood of the room.
I start down an empty aisle.
A gloved, faceless woman pushing a cart
Starts up the other end. She stops.
She retreats.
Waiting for me to leave.
I hurry my trip
Grabbing some things
In my haste, forgetting others.
A quick look down the paper section
Reveals empty shelves and desperate,
Forlorn obscured faces.
As I go to check out
New warnings await:
“Remain behind the line.
Wait for instructions.
Stand behind the shield.”
The young man spritzes the belt
With something harsh-smelling.
My nose wrinkles in distaste.
He rings out my purchases
Carefully setting them aside
For me to recart myself.
He looks anxious. Scared.
I could carry death and never know.
He could be my executioner. Who knows?
I exit, unconsciously giving people space.
A spectre follows me home.
Death is riding his pale horse through town,
And his shadow touches us all.


Ordinary errands have become fraught with tension, fear, and even suspicion during these days of worry.

About the Artist

David Marvin,  Centre County
Published:  May 18, 2020