Dispatch #013

2 Poems

By Caitlin Krause

explaining to my dog about coronavirus
she doesn’t understand
anything about this time
except maybe the joy that
I have become her new best friend
always around, always beside her
in a way neither of us expected
I find myself crawling on all fours,
tongue lolling out, my playful dance,
panting breath, saying catch me
if you can, and we race around
the apartment yard, tangling in
each other and the leash
until some other dog comes around
and I stand, my hair bristling
on my neck as I pull us away,
saying come on, let’s go
but she tugs toward this other dog,
she wants to play, and the rules
used to be about playing nicely
and letting strangers touch her,
she is only a puppy, after all
spending one of her seven months
in shelter in place, and we are lucky
for these walks, for our health, our easy
kisses and licks and deep, deep sighs
of peace as we settle down each night
to sleep, and what is different, to her,
as she sleeps nestled against my stomach
curled in a ball that warms and eases
what feels like a knot, my clenching
as I think of Italy, I think of Spain,
I think of New York hospitals brimming
with need, I ache with the knowing
of what she doesn’t, and when we wake
she sits, terrier ears up, eyes alert,
looking out the window, surveying
this new world at a distance, where
she gets the daily news by her nose,
quivering, sensing, she seems only
to understand my constant effort
to dwell in both the suffering
and the small moments of joy

city rain
rain all morning, now the city’s a haze
cool spring air sweeps between buildings
neighbors stand in the grass at least
six feet apart, measuring the distance, 
I stay inside, rain-tapping the keys,
keep thinking what could be done 
differently but it doesn’t help to dwell 
I don’t know anything more useful
than how to breathe, in and out, 
evenly, how to fold into 
quotidien chores, peering around
corners with courage enough
to limit the yawn of my mouth
I aim for words that sing we must 
be different, going forward, soon
they say this will be a new normal
but in this tragic gap I miss times 
we stood together in wonder
fixed attention at the same time,
in the same place, paid attention 
to something real as fireworks, their
spiderlegs stretched across harbor sky, 
pops concerts at the shell, summer
nights of shakespeare on the common 
these were shared common moments 
in a common time that mattered in a way 
my livestream works to approximate, and 
virtual reality offers allure of connection, as we
learn a new language of replication, 
avatar-to-avatar, feeling seen and heard
and maybe that’s all it ever is: fixing our attentions
on each other
in this space between our 
separate bodies, so distinct in make and mind,
in the focused mutuality of doing, being, listening
we pause to attend to this new normal 
that feels as if we are
you feel

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