People Who Hear I Love You through Facemasks

By Gerry Stewart

Title from a poem by Leah Martin

There’s a story here worth sharing

before it’s bitten off short, isolated

by swing doors slapping closed.


The words whisper over the dull tiles

in hygiene-slippered feet, so distracted

they bang into a trolley with squeaky wheels,

disrupting its supply of worries.


Only staff observe the muffled gasps

through the fingerprinted windows,

just beginning or winding down

with nurse-timed interruptions,

the knuckled grips of not letting go.


The unsaid catches in the throat

until we choke on too much air

and the sound of those three heavy syllables

empties the space between us.


Gerry Stewart (she/her) is a poet, creative writing tutor and editor based in Finland. Her poetry collection Post-Holiday Blues was published by Flambard Press, UK. Her collection Totems will be published in 2020 by Hedgehog Poetry Press. Her writing blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter @grimalkingerry.

This piece is a part of DISTANCED 3.0.

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