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Life in the Time of Corona

Crossing COVID Bay

Diane Skelton

Diane Skelton’s work has appeared in The English Journal, Mississippi Magazine, Mississippi Genealogy, Gulf Breeze News, Florida Hockey Life, The Legend, Emerald Coast Review and various professional publications. From her home in Gulf Breeze, she writes the blog, thegumbodiaries. She has published two books, The Gumbo Diaries: Mississippi and Beyond (2015) and Thank You for Asking (2020).

I read a wife’s “how to” account of driving across the country

while keeping coronavirus at bay.

I heed her advice, as if packing to cross the Oregon Trail --

ice chest, water bottles, granola bars, cheese sticks, fruit,

tissues, sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, body wipes, face masks.

After 163 days trapped in the Panhandle,

my husband and I venture a hundred miles to ferry across Mobile Bay.

Leaving town, we drop our mail-in ballots in the post office slot.

Safer to risk losing our votes than to catch COVID-19 casting them.

The toll gate attendant slides a six-foot board with a clip

into our car window, snagging our credit card. Cash not accepted.

Orange vests, black gloves, and blue rayon face masks

wave us aboard the Dauphin Island ferry.

Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee vehicles rumble on behind.

The Marissa Mae Nicole slips into the bay, catching the breeze.

Passengers, one by one, tenuously escape their transport,

and raise their faces high into the wind, unfettered, free.

A face mask slips from a passenger’s pocket, quickly stuffed back in.

Riding atop gray-bay waters guarded by the past, Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan,

I stand on deck where President Obama once stood.

Gliding past oil platforms, caught between the past and the future,

I throw caution to the wind with a boatload of refugees on a half-hour crossing.

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