Gautier door
Shelter in Place
by Lourdes A. Gautier

I have two front doors.

One that limits who enters, can be locked or unlocked with a key
and is a perfect shade of red adorned with brass fittings.

The second one is an additional filter, locked and opened only from within
and sports a natural heart shaped swirl on dark, honey colored hickory    wood.

Between them a foyer nestles to welcome visitors, provide a place for    wet umbrellas,
or a last minute glance in the antique mirror before one steps out into the    world.

Now it houses disinfectant spray and disposable wipes that will hopefully
keep the pandemic from entering the house, sneaking in on packages,    shoes, people.

The only nod to life before virus is a wreath of yellow and red tulips
that hang from a hook, almost as if to say all is well here.

I’ve lost track of how many days I’ve sheltered in place.
Two weeks, no three. Twenty-one days at home thus far.

Self-quarantine in my town was advised long before state governors    began
extolling the benefits of social distancing or staying home.

When will these doors resume their job as portals to the outside world
instead of barriers that keep me in and invisible death out?

Two front doors, when I know that there are those who have none.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: One of the things that I immediately liked about this house was the two front doors. To have what amounts to a decompression chamber between the outside world and the home was a gift I couldn’t ignore. And the opportunities for decorating a small space were endless. Now I’m grateful to have a place where we can try to decontaminate ourselves before venturing inside.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lourdes A. Gautier was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in New York City, where she earned a Master’s degree in Theatre and post graduate credits in a doctoral program at the City University of New York (CUNY) focusing on Latin American Theatre. She has taught courses in acting and theatre history and criticism at CUNY, Drew University, and Jersey City State University, and language arts in a special grant funded program at Rutgers University.  Her short story, 1952, was published in Acentos Review.  Her poems have appeared in Calliope Magazine, Dying Dahlia Review, and Silver Birch Press. She has performed at the Inwood Local open mic night in New York City and participated in the inaugural Cagibi Writer’s Retreat in Hudson County. She was a featured poet at Second Saturdays at Cyrus, hosted by Terri Muss and Matt Pasca. Her writing focuses on the issues of identity as an Afro-Latina, the many faces of love (romantic and familial), and saudade or anhelo, a longing for a place to call home. She was one of the featured poets at the 2019 Feria Internacional del Libro de la Ciudade de New York.  Recently retired from a position as an administrator at Columbia University, she is working on a collection of poems and stories. Her essay on Saudade was accepted for the forthcoming Dominican Writers Anthology.