COVID Fall: Memorial

I wanted to know who she had been
They gave me adjectives–nice, so nice
The sweetest lady. I wanted to know her loves
And those fell rarely from their lips.
By chance, a mention: she loved
The river valley in autumn. Oh. Me too.
She was oak and birch, maple and sumac
Blazing? Yes. So am I. Then another:
Turtle sundaes, pecan and caramel
Sticking in our molars. Yes. Oh yes.
With that I start to build an idea,
The faintest image of who she was,
Who we would have been together.
As we approach a million,
Gather their loves: this one a sunset
Streaking wide prairie skies,
That one petrichor and sunshine,
Another varnished wood. This is how
We keep them. This is how we keep our souls.

A bit of what I’ve been doing

COVID Summer: Emergent
Never before so quiet,
Never before so quick–
Or distracted. Oh good.
You’re one we can save.
Have a blanket. Steroids.
Calm the welts down.
No cough here, no fever.
This one smells the hospital,
Her own exhausted breath.
Get her in, get her out.
The next won’t be so lucky.


COVID Summer: The Plain People
Two a.m. in the ER
William Butler Yeats
Can’t stand the plain people
Selling their souls; me,
I just can’t stand.
His salt of the earth
Sustain me through testing
Take me home in the dark.


COVID Summer: Hives
“Ninety percent of the things you worry about
Never come to pass,” he told us over and over.
And he was right–but then come all the things
You forgot to give a chance at that magic ninety
Red welts barely kept in check, the itching
Unexpected misery in a world of expected.
Quick, what should I worry about next?

COVID Summer: Hand Soap
Four months since I’ve seen
My favorite lemon soap
We’re halfway through
The big aloe refill bottle now,
No one singing any more,
No mantras: we’re retrained.
I still miss the lemon
And not having the list
In my head, what we need,
What we can get by on,
Soft aloe stopgaps.

COVID Summer: Relic

I asked for a library book
Before. In the before times.
It’s here now, in my bag
For curbside pickup: ready
To tell me what I thought
I would want to know.
Before I checked the graphs
Every day, before I watched
The numbers climb. Before.
A fossil of past intent,
A message in a bottle
Sent from self to self
A little paper wormhole
Into the year that wasn’t.