How Not to Disappear (Pandemic Style)
Take your temperature. Blow up the same red
balloon at irregular intervals; expel your breath
into the sink. Schedule Zoom calls with your dog.
Screen share every pimpled, buck-toothed photo
of your younger self to remind you who you were
and whom you’ve tried to leave behind. Read
every story you can find on the 1918 Spanish Flu:
how it spread, how it ebbed, how it returned,
how it killed and how quickly history wiped
30-50 million souls from its pages. Scissor
your old love letters and yesterday’s obits into a collage
of loss. Google the word for “death” in 27 languages.
Drift through every new Facebook group, mushroom
clusters of panicked souls searching for connection,
liking random posts in a Morse code of caring. Name
your age spots “freckles” and play connect-the-dots along
your arms in sidewalk chalk as you wait in six-foot intervals
outside the only local Trader Joes not closed for illness.
Magnify every detail of your shrunken life: post
photos of yet another home-cooked meal, your sleep-
curled cat, the first lemon fattened on a branch,
the hummingbird sexing your pink hibiscus. Fill
a jar with the dimes and nickels of these moments,
a currency you’ll invest in poems to remember
what we’ll all soon try to forget, clutching at our memories
of “normal” like fragments of last night’s dreams.