Kathryn de Leon


Eighty-nine-year-old Rita Sargent of Chippenham, Wiltshire, said, regarding
sheltering during COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, “Rubbish. Life’s for living. If I
get COVID, get me a bottle of whisky and a box of chocolates and leave me.”

So much depends upon
a bottle of whisky and a box of chocolates,

my mouth full and muddy as a pond,
my tongue splashing
in all that flavour,
sweet, spicy, bitter.

If I catch the virus, I’ll be blamed
for not sheltering.
They’ll say I have my own blood on my hands.
It will be chocolate on my fingers,
sticky and dark with life’s ending,
strong whisky like fire
on my last breath.

I’ll raise my glass in a golden toast
to my life,
pop chocolates unmarked, uncounted,
like the days of my life
into my mouth,
a black smile smeared beautifully on my face.

So much depends upon death’s arrival.
I’ll be ready,
embalmed in sugar and alcohol,
my blood sluggish and warm,

my eyes sleepy,
my legs boneless,
nearly a century of living finalised,
no fear, no sadness, only giggles,

an empty bottle,
an empty box.

Kathryn de Leon is from Los Angeles, California, but has been living in England for thirteen years. She is a teacher and lived in Japan for six years teaching English to Japanese university students. Her poems have appeared in several magazines in the US including Calliope, Aaduna, Black Fox, Trouvaille Review, and Neologism Poetry, and in several in the UK including London Grip, The Blue Nib, and The High Window, where she was the Featured American Poet.