“Contagion,” “Melancholia Covida,” and “Intermission”


Who among us has not been infected with COVID

fear? Waking, wanting to vomit but the vomit hangs

burning in our esophagus and we are not certain  of the day

of the week or when our toilet paper will run out and if

there will be more in the stores. Who among us does

not fear dying alone, COVID keeping loved ones distant—

unlike when my children and I held their father’s hands

and feet, keeping rhythm with his damaged heart and

shallow breaths until      there        were        none     left.

These Covid days and nights hazmat-faced doctors,

frayed-thin nurses and respiratory therapists stand in

at last breaths and on a computer screen their patient

is reassured —

Of course, I will remember your mother’s November

birthday and the dog’s monthly heartworm pills.

Yes, I will make certain your grandfather’s gold

pocket watch goes to his eldest great-grandson.

Who among us has not rehearsed permission-giving?

It is okay for you to go now.  It is okay. We will be fine.

Who among us has not practiced remembering the faces of loved  ones?

Melancholia Covida

I wake exhausted after intense and vivid dreams—

Covid dreams, even if not about Covid

Aim an instant thermometer at my forehead like a gun

no fever. Shower hoping to scrub the sadness away—

accomplish only a reminder we are out of soap

Excavate heaps of laundry for clean underwear

Excavate the kitchen sink for a coffee mug

Ignore unpaid bills spilling onto the mudroom floor

along with coupons for gutter leaf catchers and riding lawn mowers

Clocks read Salvador Dali time

Day of the week and month confirmed on the newspaper masthead

Dogs Angus and Jimmy need rabies shots

Begonias, geraniums and marigolds on the back deck need deadheading

Hair needs cutting, teeth need cleaning

Last night I burned couscous in my favorite two-quart pot

twenty miles away Rayshard Brooks, a Black man

is murdered with a police gun in a Wendy’s parking lot

I want to stop counting names of Black men killed by police

I want to sleep under a Gee’s Bend quilt

I want Leonard Cohen to gather me in.

I want asparagus in the refrigerator not to be rotten.


I know the just-picked red pepper pod

& rosemary in your  vodka, the sienna,

cadmium & charcoal in the rumples of your

hands—and still your artist’s shoulders

never rotate fully open—shrouded in

paint-stained long-sleeved white shirts

you buy for four dollars at Goodwill.  Zorba

dancing & the nightmares of a seven-year-old

in the same ill-fitting skin & I am   just a young

lady having  Saturday breakfast with you   

at Java Jive  you tell the person calling your

phone. Just a young lady—diaphanous robe

of ancient legend exchanged for jeans  &

a crisp white linen shirt. The intoxication

sweet.   The price of nectar steep.

About the Author

Eve Hoffman

Eve Hoffman lives on a remnant of the Georgia dairy farm where she grew up. Still follows dirt roads and Guernsey cream. Bigots and lying makes her angry—so do squirrels eating all the garden tomatoes—but that’s a different kind of anger. She’s been honored as a Remarkable Woman by her alma mater Smith College. Published: Celebration of Healing stories of twenty models impacted by breast cancer to accompany Sal Brownfield’s paintings. Chapbooks Red Clay and SHE. Full-length Memory & Complicity, Mercer University Press, nominated for Georgia poetry book of the year.