Dispatch #037

2 Poems

By Hollie Hardy

A Murmuration of Starlings

In the cities, protestors break quarantine and windows
expressing moral outrage, like a choreographed ballet
at 45, your mother asks you to move home
so she can keep you safe
I take all day to summon the courage
to swim across the river
where the late afternoon
sun warms the rocks
a mother’s job is to worry
because we cannot
escape the river, we cannot escape
the president
his omnipotent lies
and beguiling teeth
gleam like wolves
in the twitterlight
hark, the darkening view
from my apartment, television-blue skyline
rearranging a racial hierarchy
at hospitals dressed in death
water is stronger than rocks
time’s carving knife ripples
and recedes in its own image
patient, a river-shaped handprint    
at midnight the landlord is summoned
to clean up mountains of cardboard boxes
so they cannot be burned by protestors (like us)
we enjoy the sight of his labors, from behind closed shades
today a rocket launches two astronauts into space
escaping gravity but not quarantine
on the ground a handsome reporter
tears up and turns away
in another life, I wonder what kind of bird I might be—
built for speed or distance, solitary or gregarious
I want to join a migration, a murmuration
of starlings, an acrobatic aerial display
on the drive to the river, we play “I’m going on a trip”
you bring an anvil and a parachute
because the laws of attraction
supersede the laws of physics
in the morning the scent of you
coffee and earth, the promise of rain
the weight of your body next to mine
means you are still here, means I am not alone

Slow Motion Upon a Pallid Landscape

Days slide nameless into weeks
Tuesday tantamount to Saturday
we wake up in fragments
hours later than we meant
the sound of hammering is loud
at the epicenter of change
we linger in dreams
follow kinks in the hose
pick fruits and flowers
that don’t belong to us
happiness resembles
a fickle flitting bird
because quarantine is equivalent to quagmire
we build a new vocabulary for togetherness
a private lexicon for latchkey adults
a grist of sodium chloride
we eat chocolate at midnight
because feelings are so
we learn to breathe in protest
through our homemade voluntary bindings
but forget to hydrate
we let wind quench our thirst
cooling and tangling
everywhere light
lands lush with texture
along the forbidden trail
waves burst around rocks
like wings
poison oak blooms
at our elbows
But we will not be warned
we have come to build

June 1, 2020

Oakland, California.

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