Shelby Wilson – Shelter In/Out – Pandemic

Shelter In/Out
by Shelby Wilson

Ask any elementary school student
about the basic needs for life.
Inevitably, his third answer will be

Walls to protect from the 
harshness of storms,
harshness of others—
so we stockpile,
launder clothes to pass the time,
and shelter in.

We keep the world out,
scour our hands red and dry,
irradiate every styrofoam takeout box
abandoned on our front stoop by latex-handed drivers.

We wave through parallel horizontal blinds and glass—
shelter protects.

Neighbors stroll by, staring back through windows
like new fathers into a neonatal unit,
walls lined with its incubators—
shelter protects.


Shelby Wilson lives, works, and writes in Amarillo, Texas. His work has appeared in Ink & Nebula, Sparks of Calliope, Celestal Review, and elsewhere.