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?
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.