Pandemic Verse

I call it bloom because 

that’s not dying.

We’re about to see the bloom,

I told my friend.

It’s growth but not a flower. 

Not canna not rose,

not casket nor corpse; 

it just means something 

has opened.

My friend draws blood. He says 

he cried last Sunday. Another counsels

the sick and the doctors

on the floor.

I’m home with children keeping

peace and cooking rice,

answering questions 

when they come. I choked

the first time one asked

How long?

This bloom leads

to a peak, and we can’t

see how high it goes. We

know it’s a mountain,

and people die climbing.

Every year you hear

someone froze

on the way up or

fell down. This bluff

boasts the biggest drop

of all. This crag looms

like Kilimanjaro. Many,

many will perish.

Two months,

I said, maybe.

Everyone’s talking

numbers and I’m not

listening. I’ll falter. I’ll

stop cooking the rice,

feed us ricin beans

instead. 

I’m afraid of everyone

dying. This is why

you can’t give me odds.

Outside, two bulbs are 

blooming. March flowers down South

but this is April in Chicago—

we call them daffodils and

cut the stems knowing

snow may still cover 

the beds and blossoms.

They signal life. Omens.

More will follow.

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