Jeannine Hall Gailey
Post-Apocalypse Postcard with Food Network Hostess
Dear Ina, thanks for having us out to the Hamptons, the perfect getaway – so few screams out on the coast, away from prying eyes. Loved the set of guest soaps, precious these days, the sprigs of lavender and thyme, the basket of strawberry muffins with preserved lemon butter. Jeffrey’s sweater comes in handy these cold nights, and his tips on the global economy right on target, plus, your anecdotes about nuclear policy in the 80s - hilarious. You taught me how to harvest sea salt from the ocean, how to coax flavor from smoked salmon. And if anyone can make cooking over a fire seem cozy, it’s you! The orange yolks of your organic eggs made me think of the old days, my mother’s harried breakfasts, the bit of silver in her hair. Your starched blue eyes crinkle just like hers, your bob still spotless even without electricity. The lights over the harbor seem so benign out here. The chilled sunshine leaving its dying rays on your face as we waved goodbye, good luck, barefoot on the wrecked beach.
Hospital as Zombie Apocalypse Movie
I started volunteering at hospitals years before
I needed them myself on a regular basis,
but even then the setup – the sterile blue lights,
the pieces of anatomy in coolers, the pile of cold bodies
hidden somewhere in the bowels of the building –
brought up Night of the Living Dead-type clichés,
some zombies chasing down the candy striper who trips,
leaving her ankle within range of killer teeth.
Now with so many nights hooked up to machines that go ping,
double IV marks on my arms, used to grim-faced nurses
waking me up at ungodly hours to check random vitals…
The waitlist for organs – we’re going to need his eyes, his liver,
the heart from his chest – I know it’s for a good cause,
but you know what? Creepy, imagining staff waiting to take
the best parts of you piecemeal into another warm body.
The idea of apocalypse actually starts to sound appealing,
the head-nurse gearing up for action, me ripping out needles
to grapple with a newly-undead soul. How much better
to imagine standing on a wheelchair tricked out
with sawed-off shotguns, using the fire extinguisher to escape
the staggering overnight staff, faces gaunt even before they went undead
and bloodied, the checkout receptionist still holding her clipboard
dutifully from her one good arm - your last obstacle to escape
from stale-recycled fright into freedom, possibility, the fresh air of night.
Jeannine Hall Gailey served as Redmond, Washington's second Poet Laureate. She's the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and the upcoming Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Web site: www.webbish6.com. Twitter: @webbish6.