Last Day

Katrina Kaye

The clay we are molded
in will not harden. We
are not meant to last.

Even as we lay in post
coital glory, the tremble
still in my legs, the sweat
clinging to our bodies,
even now, we know
this is the end.

A moment shared, in all
its precious give and take,
touch and toss, comfort and
cross, is just a temporary
slip of the sun across sky.

Hold my body to yours, let
the sweat dry and consciousness
return to our extremities
let the sun fall on our last
day of summer. My dearest friend.

In our quarantine

Liza Wolff-Francis

there is only my shadow
on an open empty road.
Central Avenue is deserted,
as if we built the world
for ourselves, then weren’t
able to live in it.
Our world, a dead tree cut
into circles, chopped like
pieces of hotdog or carrot rounds.
A roadrunner crosses
the rough cracked asphalt,
a silent yellow fire hydrant
in a green yard.
All that is left is a ghostbike
to memorialize us, all the beads,
all the trinkets that hang from it.
Even inside our house,
the meditation pillow
tries to be the rug. My child
disappears into a box,
his coat hanger book report
hangs alone, waits
to go back to school someday
in some uncertain future.

Reach

Katrina Kaye

I balanced
my kindness
on the tips of
outstretched fingers,
so ready to give
all that I have
in exchange
for one smile.

We cannot always
reach who we hope;

those we most long for
may slip as easy
as dried leaves
crushed under foot.

Some friendships
should always be
kept at arm’s
length.

I pulled you in.
Let you crawl beside me,
inside me; I showed you
a different version of my face.

One so few have taken
the time to embrace.

My dearest friend,
you left blisters on my
fingertips, fresh and soft.
It will be days before
the flesh bursts and peels,
the callous forms.

They may never return to
the pink they were before
I first touched you.

Tonight, my hands ache,
and all I want,
all I ever wanted was to
offer up the kindness you
never claimed
but always deserved.

The task of the creative

Liza Wolff-Francis

To those of us who write poems, create art,
our task is to lead the thirsty to the lagoon

where the water is just cool enough to test out.
First, with a dip of the toe, then cupping

our hands around it to make a small
puddle in our palms, bring puddle to lips,

between cheeks. We cannot help them
swallow, drink, or digest, but we can point out

the deepest parts and the shallow areas
where algae grows. We can show them

how to soak their bodies in an ecosystem
they didn’t know existed. We can wear a path

in the grasslands between their home and this oasis,
where a quench is mastered before it even registers

in the mind. Our task is to show them
when the hawks dive down, to alert them

to the preying wait of the crocodile. Our task
is to make them want more, so they depend on it

and are conscious of that at their very core,
beyond even understanding thirst.

Remember

Emily Bjustrom

After Joy Harjo

Remember the sky you were born under-
The light and how it shadowed
Your mother’s face

How she howled and screeched-
The two of you were Human then

Remember your feet
How they carried you
Up mountains and trees

You clung to them
Remember the breeze
How it kissed you
And blessed you with its touch

You knew then what animal you were
Remember.

Numb

Katrina Kaye

I became numb
one afternoon,
essence drained
from veins

like a dried petal,
posing for pictures,
yet so close to crumble.

The thread pulled tightly,
and ribs corseted closed

unable to carry breathe
or speak the words that
scratch the top of my mouth.

Wanting to be a good woman,
I emerge mannequin,
hoping not to break
illusion with movement.

I am a clumsy masochist at best.

I continue to wake every morning.
Not a bathing beauty,

or ambitious explorer.
Not a teacher, or poet, or guide,
nor lap cat provided with secure function.

Without purpose, I only continue.

I used to trust in friendship,
assume confidence from conversations,
validations from simple smiles.

Now I cross myself in the morning
before covering my feet.
I keep my anger in an empty vase
that gathers dust on windowsill.

While he sleeps,

Liza Wolff-Francis

I sit in the dark of morning, inhale
the sacred silence that comes between

his breaths like a tiptoe. My body balances
on the edge of the bed as if it was to decide

which day to climb out of. His breath, even
and pacing, as if it were the day moving

through itself and an occasional animal sound,
a raccoon perhaps, a squirrel, a dog, a bear.

My bear behind me, vulnerable like all
that would kill us is far from here, far from us.

My prayers that it will stay that way hover
at the floorboard cracks, like a spell of salt

and peppermint oil to keep away dark shadows,
politicians in their masks, the America

I criticize and want to be different. Only all that I love
here in the dark right at my fingertips, holding up

the droop of my breasts, the bend of my toes,
the wild of my hair. While you sleep, the air

holds me in its dying night and I wait to remember
myself, all skin and bone, in the coming light.

Day 9

It’s been rainy for days

(or cloudy, or rainy then cloudy, then rainy and so forth).

It’s the end of the world as we know it…

R.E.M.’s song plays in my mind

over

and over

until my head literally aches,

until the news explodes

and anxiety turns to panic.

I can’t breathe!

Stop.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I can’t control this virus, which is infesting

our world like termites in drywall.

It is crumbling, the death toll is massive.

This pandemic is for the ages. History will learn

what to do, what not to do.

We can’t go outside. No parks, no stores, no school. No holding love ones.

My little boy sleeps in my California king size bed,

he is so tiny; his lips are fat. All I see is his newborn self.

In reality, he’s seven and big for his age.

Yesterday, he asked me, “How do I know if I have the virus?”

He says, matter-of-factly, “I asked Google, but she doesn’t know.”

I share, “You will have the worse cough of your life. Fever.”

“Don’t worry,” I say. “We are safe in our home.” (I hope, I say quiet in my mind).   

I remember when I nursed him, protected him in the cradle of my arms and breast.

I have an urge to do that now. Protect him.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…

This pandemic is an apocalypse. It is like a Ray Bradbury sci-fi short story.

Except, it is true. This pandemic. This virus.

Hunting us like night owls chasing mice.

Call it what you will: SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19. Coronavirus.

#corona

#Istayhomefor

#alltogether

#flattenthecurve

#invisibleenemy

In Italy, 4,825 deaths. The world over 10,000, and we are still counting.

From Wuhan, China, to New York City.

Every continent except Antarctic.

Run.

But where?

I pray for so many. Where to begin?

My family, friends, doctors, nurses, the sick, world leaders, the Pope…

I write/pray well into the night. The candle is burning low.

I have to wonder, is it the end of the world?

God, is it?

I wear my blue glass rosary around my neck.

It touches my skin all day. 24 hours a day.

I am in prayer. It gives me strength, comfort.

I pray in between sips of coffee, in the silence

of morning.

In the blackness of 6:45 a.m.

This is no spring.

It has been rainy for days.

When will the sun shine again?

I see the glimpse of rays peeking through the cottonwoods.

I see a rainbow,

in the sky.

In my son’s drawings.

I take solace that my family is home safe.

I see little moments of hope. I watch on the news for

little glimmers of hope of people singing on balconies,

people emerging from lockdowns in China to finally photograph nature again.

When the Sun truly rises, when the virus is defeated

(hopefully), life will still

be here. It will be different. But it will still be here.

Maybe, the world will hold hands again

in peace

and joy

and thanksgiving.

I can only imagine.

But I have to have hope.

We are all in this together.

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

and I feel fine…

because I have hope. 

© Gina Marselle, March 22, 2020

9 days and counting…

Image taken by Gina Marselle from her car window using an iPhone 7 Plus, March 19, 2020