You Must Get Ready

By Jenean McBrearty

PROMPT — During COVID-19 ...

You must stay home.

The government says shelter. Quarantine. House arrest.

You will sacrifice yourself.

Your temper flares.

You’re angry, scared —scangry.

Now you know what it is like to be old.

How scangry aging makes you.

How imprisoned you feel

by aches and pains.

How lonely you are

treated as though you’ve lost your wits and mind.

How you’re socially distanced

every day as though you were diseased instead preserved.

How you go days without speaking,

and how soon you have nothing to say.

Words are parched, rare and icy,

corpse-like.

You don’t laugh.

You’re living a dress rehearsal

for the long eternity.

Jenean McBrearty is a graduate of San Diego State University, where she taught Political Science and Sociology. Her fiction, poetry, and photographs have been published in over two-hundred print and on-line journals. Her how-to book, Writing Beyond the Self; How to Write Creative Non-fiction that Gets Published was published by Vine Leaves Press in 2018. She won the Eastern Kentucky English Department Award for Graduate Creative Non-fiction in 2011, and a Silver Pen Award in 2015 for her noir short story: “Red’s Not Your Color.” She lives in Kentucky and writes full time when she’s not watching classic movies and eating chocolate.

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