Shelter in a Temporary Place
by Leah Mueller

Wooden eye with heavy cataracts
opens and closes. I step outside
like Dorothy, hand on knob,
pale face exposed to color.

The sound of rain deafens me:
sloppy crunch of gravel as cars
turn the corner towards the alley.

The insistence of it. News
wafts inside like a bad stench.

A woman passes, face mask snug
across her nostrils: vinyl leash taut
as her dog still strains for the park.

My flimsy door won’t
hold back this tide much longer.
I flee towards another, more
sturdy than the one I borrowed.

Invaders always enter portals.
Locks beg to be broken,
wood splintered until the
hinges no longer hold.

I search for an opening
to a wide, undamaged street
and a room no one can enter
without my permission.

If I drive all night without stopping
I will outrun the bandits
and the law: the whole damn posse,
trying its best to take me alive.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I wrote this poem from the perspective of a Washingtonian, smack dab in the hot zone of a coronavirus pandemic, getting ready to flee the state and move to Bisbee, Arizona. Last summer, my husband was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. This dramatically altered our life plans. We sold our only investment, a tiny condo near the Canadian border, and bought a small house in Bisbee. Then the virus took hold. Some businesses shut down, and others struggled to keep their doors open. A forced meditation about the impermanence and fragility of everything.

Mueller copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer, stuck in the void between Tacoma, Washington, and Bisbee, Arizona. She has published books with numerous small presses. Her most recent volumes, Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices (Czykmate Press), Death and Heartbreak (Weasel Press), and Cocktails at Denny’s (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears or is forthcoming in Blunderbuss, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Bad Pony, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She won honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.