Benson Egwuonwu

I’m blessed with the grace
of respiration

but today
my nose has designs for irritation

as I shift from my mattress to join the fray
a creeping, clogging, sinus blocking
fluid seizes my face 

composure is the first casualty
before, my hands could sit snug in thin pockets
but now, my conversations are punctuated
by sniffles and cheek twitching

so I sneeze in salvos
whoosh in the crook of my elbow
spray snot droplets
in a basket of palms

surreptitious backhand wipe
to glisten skin
or paper handkerchief nose polish
with a flourish 

muscles tighten to dam the rush again
but convulsion is not an option
the only choice today
is to shudder dry or erupt to the blindside
and pray that nobody gets a faceful
of the splattering saliva wave

I tried to write – I really did –
but my style was disrupted
when mucus dripped on my upper lip

heed the furrowed brow of companions
acutely aware of the walls
and windows in their surroundings
whom you seek not to infect – nonetheless
they angle their frames
away from your breath

“Are you okay?” they’ll sometimes say
then draw upon a remedy
for the incessant malady
incurable since medicine deemed it
excessive in mutation

the rotten cold
the common inconvenience 

which pays no respect to your
or vaccinations

the stop gap is to stave it off
with any chemicals necessary 

Lemsip powder perchance
or lemon honey brew
a palette of pills
to pop for you and your crew

tuck a nasal spray in your nostril
and tug at the trigger
fortify your body
with a feast fit to survive winter

or flee to slumberland
away from the spasms
like a fugitive from the viral menace
that staggered my balance 

o grant us a sanctuary
to heal our bludgeoned senses
and breathe in the next day
with our bones and blood replenished.

Benson Egwuonwu (twitter: @bensonpens, instagram: @benson_pens) is a poet and lawyer based in London, United Kingdom. His poetry has recently been published in Arachne Press’ anthology Where We Find Ourselves (2021).