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Retirement amid COVID-19

By Grace Pell

Three days into retirement, I am still up before dawn,

Coffee wafts out from the thermos snugged in the console.


New duty station Chaos,

not where anyone planned.


Windshield wipers swish away fog, spots, grime.


Wrinkled hands grip, signal, adjust, steer


From the city in the rear-view mirror:

               Today’s weather forecast.

               A check on traffic. Pandemic news, at the top of the hour.


The ambient glow of a job I loved. Co-workers like family.


“Be happy!”,  my children scold.   




On the Golden Oldies station, a harmonica bends a note.


The North Star GPS is silent for hours.


The car plows deeply into the fog and darkness.


Burdened trucks grind slowly uphill on the right.


Just for today:

               Watch for signs,

               The sparkle of deer.                      



Obey vehicle traffic laws.


As the sky streaks orange, I am in retreat from sunrise.

No blast of light to assault the eyes on this trip west.


Shadows start to emerge on the periphery: 


               Mountains at the horizon,  

trees green,

                                                            a red barn.


Where a farmer straddles a three-legged stool,

Shoulders the side of a spotted cow,

And warm milk fills

Her bucket.


Grace Bone Pell is a is currently working on a collection of stories titled Heartland, a memoir of repeated transplants: from Kentucky to naval bases during the middle of the last century, from farm to suburb, from military to civilian life.  Her poem, "Retirement Amid COVID-19" describes another challenging transition.

Grace Bone Pell
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