Washington, DC

Quarantine: a Month of Haiku

Claire Handscombe

On Day 25 of This in Washington, DC, I finally figured out how to process my days: seventeen syllables every night. Here’s the result of the first month.


Most of the day: rain,

but a walk in the sunshine.

Ice cream: delivered.

Spring: a dress, smooth legs.

Sun on my face. Paperback.

Pause to smell blossom.

Dreams of human touch;

Welcome voices in machines;

Books on my doorstep.

Friday night. Eerie

quiet in the neighbourhood.

Cold: the weather knows.

Cops in Lincoln Park

Street Musicians in face masks

War, and yet: spring blooms

Hope! He is risen!

I’m remembered. Thoughtful treats,

Yelled greetings from cars.

distance means nothing

laughter with faraway friends

a month without touch

Made a child laugh. Worked.

Celebrated two birthdays.

Life continues on.

the smell of mown grass

the blossom almost gone now

we stand in the sun

blue sky. I don mask

(or scarf); loop Capitol grounds

—empty. Unsettling.

Sleep eludes me. Naps.

Headaches. Upstairs, the floors creak.

Another month? Sigh.

Scarf over my mouth

I shop; refill my freezer

stockpiling for war

rest, walk, time “with” friends

a thousand words on paper

a hug-less week starts

cherry blossom: gone

nature’s unrelenting hope

brings new flowers still

Why am I still here?

Outward smile. Silent screaming.

I want out of this.

Are you tired? I am.

Writing seems impossible.

We go on. We must.

Small joys, so vital

Stories read from the pavement

Some comfort TV

computer headaches

suppressed emotions surface

early morning angst

Unexpected joy:

a street wedding! Sparkling wine!

Love is real. There’s that.

down to my last pants

laundry: insurmountable

as are all tasks now

Friends so close and yet

untouchable. We adapt

too easily, no?

will blue light glasses

make me feel better or will

only touch do that

Everything hurts. But:

a cocktail in a Ziploc,

freshly home-baked bread.

I cry in the park.

Strangers smile, understanding,

concern in their eyes.

Another week done.

Two days of rest now? No, more

sad monotony

a singing baby,

ducks in the reflecting pool:

today, that’s enough

Screens: faces, voices

remind me who i am and

call me home, maybe?

it’s become routine:

ambient anxiety and

Monday lunchtime walks

I drown out silence:

strangers’ voices in my phone.

No room for thought, thanks.

tension in my back

I read poetry, breathe; I

write romance, escape

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.

Washington, DC

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