“while we wait for a vaccine,” a Bad Survivalist poem by Michele Popadich

Bad Survivalist: Michele Popadich

while we wait for a vaccine

i flock to the lawless. bleach
my hair purple & lob uneven bangs.
finally, a stranger to wave to in the foggy medicine
cabinet. the sink sprouts split ends & i ask a boy
up. pinky my finger into his elastic
band. he replaces the cat that has been tucked
between my legs for seven months. i write stories
that mean nothing but fold good sounds
in my shoulder blade. stop reading fiction
because this life offers so much of its own. gather
lists of words bristled with goosebumps
to sand off a dusty tomorrow. i tablespoon mint
chip ice cream at nine in the morning & pluck
rye bits from a bag of chex mix & stop eating
before the sun goes down to ache for something
within my reach. i run in streets to race
cars & hear only minstrels of congratulation
in barking horns. smile at everyone
beneath my mask. not in spite
of but because they don’t know it.
i only wear button ups on tuesdays only wing
my eyeliner so the ink doesn’t dry up only strap
on a bra when gravity feels extra
heavy only use a plate if the pot is too
hot & only wear deodorant once i am properly
soured. only my vibrator & my spotify playlists
know the places my mind has gone. i squeal
with the violin while a cello harbors a waxy mellow.
& finally. i am
unpuckered. when i sleep on the balcony
the sky doesn’t blink back. i rise early
in the dark & leave the lights off save the string
of paper lanterns kaleidoscoping their orbs
across my lonesome. sometimes i wake
at 4 a.m. unintentionally. unprovoked. my body
knows an unclaimed hour that i can call mine.

Michele Popadich is an MFA student in creative nonfiction at Northwestern University. Her essays have appeared in Hippocampus, Talking Writing, and Driftless. You can also hear her tell stories in various live lit venues around Chicago. When she’s not writing, she’s managing products at a tech company, running very long distances, climbing tall rocks, and vigorously petting her cat. Follow Michele on Twitter @miche1ewith1L and check out her past work on michele with one l.

Image: courant.com

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