Postcards from Malthusia DAY FOURTEEN: Sharon Larkin

Noli Me Tangere

 

We avoid alley, ginnel, snicket, jigger,

    favour wider lanes in rural areas

for dubious doses of fresh air, sun.

     Handshakes, hugs are supplanted

first by elbow bumps, then clasping 

     our own hands across our chests, 

gestures of intent, no eye contact. 

     A raised palm declares touch me not.

A nod while staring at our own feet.

 

     Perfume from that girl trails 

behind for yards, sneaks sideways 

     up nostrils, stirs unease, disgust.

Late night treks to supermarkets, 

      scarf bandit-like around mouth

and nose. Gloves, strict time limits,

     bills kept below the swipe amount, 

breath held at checkouts, gasping 

     to the door as if already a case.

 

Fingers wagging through glass: 

     Leave it on the step, sign for me.

Spraying deliveries and doorknobs. 

     Neural networks retrained 

to ban fingers from facial orifices, 

      handwashing to Happy Birthday, 

Jerusalem, God Save the Queen

      or Killing in the name of. Asking

will these hands never be clean?

 

 

 

Sharon Larkin’s poems regularly appear in anthologies, magazines and on-line. Interned at the Food Factory was published by Indigo Dreams in 2019. She runs Poetry Café Refreshed in Cheltenham and the Good Dadhood on-line poetry project. https://sharonlarkinjones.com  https://gooddadhood.com

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