4 Covid-19 Poems
By: Marianne Peele
Chicago, IL * Sent in on 8-30-2020. (some poems written in Florida)
We Have Grown Soft During This Pandemic
August 30, 2020 Belly soft. Hands soft between us. I touch your knee in between the silences, checking in. You are the first person I touch every morning We settle into old episodes of Jeopardy I bow to your expertise on British kings and queens You are familiar with the hierarchy of royalty You know where heads were lopped off in England. You point to a red-winged blackbird on the balcony She has landed in a bucket of lavender We watch her wing her way through the rails. Your hair has grown longer and longer. I wrap the curls at the base of your neck around my fingers. I could get lost here, kneading your locks You are good yeast between my fingers I refuse to domesticate your wildness I feed you teaspoons of molasses, remnants of the ginger cookies heavy with cinnamon and ginger. We replicate cells to a critical mass, knowing the sugar evens everything out. Last night when you were sleeping I gathered your hair in my hands, Played Cat’s Cradle, solitary style. I wove a witches broom into your hair, a cup and saucer, even cat’s whiskers. I crafted a Jacob’s ladder, a star of David I fashioned a whole pagan temple, wind cavorting between columns I howled at the strawberry moon, breathed from deep places, dantian belly breaths. I whisper songs without words into your shoulders, breathe slow and long into your sleeping places. My soft belly pressed against your back, you moan and sigh. Rising like yeast, you are the last flesh of the day.
Do Not Be Afraid
to Open Your Windows and Sing
MARCH 14, 2020 Tonight I listened to the quarantined people of Sienna, Italy sing out their windows into the dark of the night, trusting that the sound of their sole voice would connect to someone who needed that melody And the old woman hanging her towels on the balcony caught that tune let if float down onto her scrubbed and sanitized hands and instead of balling her fingers into a fist she opened her palms placed them on the balcony ledge added a harmony line just two intervals below the melody and floated it into the vibrating Italian air. The pregnant woman watering the bougainvillea on her balcony caressed the roundness of her belly, felt that determined beating heart and then opened her lips, adding a soprano obligato above he notes coalescing on this street overflowing with open windows, with hearts that long for connection We shine our best in the darkness.
MARCH 26, 2020 It is almost midnight and I am eating fig jam on rosemary crackers. I will have glazed pecans for dessert and my fingers will stick of this Turkish jam well past the hour. I watched three dolphins emerge and submerge whimsical characters circle playing right off the balcony early this morning, creamed coffee in my Monet mug warming my whole hand. The local pelican has taken to roosting on a post marking the boat lane on Banana River. If I listen ear to the east I can hear the waves, hear the Forester Tern holding up her hollow body on agile legs attempting to escape the tide.
We Have More Than Enough
March 30, 2020 On a good morning there are dolphins arching in and out of the Banana River waters. I am reading an historical novel Germany pre-World War II where an orphanage is managed by a Protestant nun who sings lullabies to babies. For older ones, she makes fry cakes from mustard powder and milk. Between songs and meals, to pass the time, the children trudge down to the open coal mine where their father was buried. I have shrimp and pork loin, even imitation crab in the freezer. The cilantro is wilting. We still have a jar of Ajvar red pepper sauce from Turkey, waiting for a loaf of hard crust bread. I make Brazilian Stew Moqueca de Camaroes as we watch the death count rise on CNN. Tonight I will douse Japanese Seven Spice onto chicken, smother with an egg, and serve it with brown rice and chopsticks. I can pick up a peanut in broth with these chopsticks. I want for nothing, save your company. We have taken to listening to the Blues at sunset. We sway to “Bloodshot Eyes” in our balcony chairs, as my partner sips Kentucky bourbon over rocks of rounded ice. We touch fingers across the divide, latticing our hands together, and the Blues play on.