Dispatch #058

Silver Lining

by Norma Smith

My animal sleeps, eyes open, on her gray sheepskin pad beside my desk. She’s curled up, snoring gently. Both of her two-leggeds have stayed home with her day and night since mid-March, when the human pandemic was fully unleashed. At first, we people struggled with our abrupt nearly complete isolation. On the other hand, having unexpected company reversed the elderly beast’s usual seclusion. This confused her in the early days.

It didn’t take her long to warm to our constant presence and, in fact, to demand nearly incessant active attention. We understand our duty to reassure her. She understands her duty to be caressed. Treats all around.

Shortly before dawn, her silver-lined muzzle, with its cold, moist nose will come to rest in the crook of my elbow, alarming me out of my own sleep: Time to pet the dog. Let the day’s work begin.

Hallowe’en Pantoum

by Norma Smith

The light
on the neighbor’s porch
rivals a rising moon. The last
Blue moon of the year.

On the neighbor’s porch
children gather, distanced, for sweets,
Blue moon of the year
may wish the goblin well.

Children gather, distanced, for sweets
day in and day out,
may wish the goblin well,
hoping it will not follow them

Day in and day out,
they beg the glowering beast above
hoping it will not follow them
down that dim-lit street.

Sent to us: Dec. 5, 2020

Editor’s Note: Dearest readers, as you can see we’re accepting submissions again. Feel free to send your pandemic writing to us at We’d love to read it and publish your work.

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