COVID mask selfie © Brian Campbell

COVID mask selfie © Brian Campbell



Cloth mask on my face
breath rises
warms my watery eyes
clouds these lenses I look through.

Everything before me
the empty streets
the wary pedestrians
weaving away
as I approach
in my own
grey fog.

But wasn’t it always this way?

We are demarcated now
by tape, signs, arrows
as we stand in line
each in his or her own
two-metre square
of air.

We walk the edges of sidewalks
step into the street
to evade the oncoming
vectors of illness,
void the vector
of illness
that is ourselves.

To reach through
these shields
to touch, hold hands, kiss,
impossible, or if not
an assault.

But wasn’t it always
to some extent
this way?

Strapped to a machine
the suck thump thump
suck thump thump
lights beeping faster, faster
as water rises
in the lungs
panic rising
as I choke
on each hasty
shallow breath
— is this the end? —
but wasn’t it always
this way?



Brian Campbell is the author of several poetry collections including Shimmer Report (Ekstasis Editions, 2015).  Also a singer-songwriter, his latest EP is On This Shore.