Essays In The Age of Corona


N I N A    S Z A R K A


I cannot be the only person
who has cried this week in a grocery store
next to an empty bath tissue shelf with a sign scotch taped to it, that reads
“Due to the high demand of this product, we will be limiting the purchase of these per customer”.

I cannot be the only person this week
to think about what it means
when people are afraid to be near each other,
afraid to touch anyone or anything,
how it feels like a very long time ago
that you would pick up the avocados and hold them
and you would touch each one
and that is how you would choose,

how I waited patiently for a store worker to sanitize the handle of the cart,
how I put my hands down on it hesitantly
like I was testing a hot stove.

Today I spoke on the phone to my landlord
to my boss
to my easthetician
and everybody’s voices sounded like choking.

All of it feels like choking. Constantly, the radio playing, holding my breath for
I don’t know what news is, anymore.
What I know is that the easiest way for a people to be broken down
is for them to be afraid of each other.

Today I walked past a bar my friend owns because I knew he’d be there
in the open window
I waved from the sidewalk, I said I love you.
I go there every day to do this, now.

We all watched the world go inside and lock their doors before we did.
We all watched the Venice canals go clear.

I can’t be the only person who is sifting
through what I am told
believing that the only certain thing is that I cannot know the truth,
holding it all in my shoulders
like something that lives there, perched.

Half of my friends lost their jobs already.
I lost my job.

And when I think about losing a job, how that is the most desperate part of this,
I am worried. I think that if I die, at least I don’t need a job.

It is only day three.
The part that holds us is the waiting.

Even in houses with one another
we are lonely
because nothing is lonelier than uncertainty.

Italy, keep singing out your windows, please.
Hello, My City. Hello, I love you. I am very lonely.








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