Pandemic Paunch

by Patricia Mosco Holloway

I used to have space,
a place where my stomach
could go–at least 
for the few seconds
I’d try to tuck it in
to achieve that flawless
flatline profile
I knew was mine.

Post pandemic quarantine,
pizza-ed, macaroni-and-cheesed,
fed fresh bread and potatoes mashed,
I am now one solid mass.
No room inside for anything
to inch. Everything’s rounded,
filled to the max. No spaces between
even organs, arteries, nerves.  
Vertebrae?  Packed tight.

But more than the starches, 
the carbos and fat, I’ve swallowed,
sucked up months of virtual
everything: concerts, coffees,
choirs, holidays, birthdays, church.
Too many boarded-up windows
and doors down empty streets.
Tired of all the blue links cramming
my computer, the masks hanging
from everywhere–doorknobs, pockets
lamps, ears, even from my rear view mirror.

I’ve swallowed isolation, which you 
would think might be empty, but
it, too, grows inside me, protruding, pressing
against each inch of my taut drum skin.
I ache for some space
to break

Patricia Mosco Holloway is a writing teacher residing in Denver. Some of her work can be found online at Rattle, The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, in The Explicator and in college textbooks teaching writing about literature by Rolf Norgaard and writing about theater by Suzanne Hudson.  She is a 2019 finalist in the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.