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poetry Quarantine

Months before the public became aware of Covid-19, the poet Quinn Lewis used the word to depict a chosen escape from normal life and the ensuing comforts “inside/the walls.”

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Quarantine

By Quinn Lewis

Allowed the air.

Allowed the surrounding pasture

as we pleased. I followed you there,

keeping a great distance between us

in the woods, so as not to step

on the heel of your boot, wrenching

it off. You always hated that.

It made you whip around and snap,

a wolf at her cub that has not

waited in the tree line for her mother

like a good mirage. But I did love

that warm apartment. We lit the fire

and the lamps until we glowed. The mice

burrowed in beds we left for them—

empty cigarette boxes, the foil

torn out and folded into stars we taped

to the ceiling. We ate yogurt and wild

strawberries, let our hair grow long

and slept with it wet against silk

pillowcases, taunting fever or infection.

You allowed the soft, brown rabbit her loping

over the cream duvet, leaving

a trail of blameless droppings. It was like

a field of snow under which we lay,

over which every creature inside

the walls with us for a time

freely roamed.

Quinn Lewis has published poems in ShenandoahThe Southern ReviewCave WallBest New Poets, and elsewhere. Her work has been featured on Poetry Daily. She's the recipient of a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, a Claudia Emerson Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and the 2019 RADAR Poetry Coniston Prize. She teaches English at SUNY Oneonta.