Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Republished on Pandemic.

water bear,
moss piglet.
Tiny little hands and feet
on microscopic limbs,
searching for algae
to suck up with its vacuum mouth
into its translucent body.
When the world ends,
it curls up in a ball,
unknowing but
I don’t know what it dreams of,
but it awakes unfazed
by the ice storms and the drought
and the emptiness of space.
Just like quarantine naps
on a stained microsuede couch.
The empty can of pizza-flavored Pringles
lies on its side on the floor,
just out of my reach.
I draw my knees up,
put my glasses up for safety.
Wake me up when this is over.


Plump Gertrude passed me with her basket full—Christina G. Rossetti

no one’s favorite coworker.
Her slouched shoulders
in unstylish blouses,
dressing for a woman twice her age,
carrying the weight of such a name.
Wrinkled khakis with an ancient grease stain
just above her right knee.
She has to throw them away soon, anyway.
Fraying seams where her thighs rub together.
It would never happen to Catherine or Jackie
and their perfect black leggings
and dressy yoga pants,
and their long, slim, professional legs.
Eyes cast downward,
she walks as quietly as possible
to the office kitchenette.
She wants to retrieve her brown-bag lunch
from the community refrigerator.
But Sasha and Gemma are standing there,
their laughter ringing across the tops of cubicles,
and Gertrude goes to the women’s room first,
so she doesn’t have to say hi,
so she doesn’t have to respond to “How are you?”
when those girls have stopped looking at her
just after they’ve asked the question.
Finally, she’s free to eat.
Every day, a turkey sandwich on
dry whole wheat bread.
Carefully portioned baked potato chips,
carrot sticks or celery sticks,
a handful of almonds,
and a lite yogurt in a small plastic cup:
key lime pie or blueberry or cherry.
When safe in her office,
door closed,
she’ll lick the back of the yogurt’s foil lid,
while listening to Edith Piaf,
and wishing that
when Alice had asked her with her dark eyes,
she had said yes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


After an unfortunate kitchen accident
involving my food processor, a small blowtorch
and an egg,
I seemed to be missing half of my left index finger,
and there was a copious volume of blood spurting upwards
like a Las Vegas fountain,
covering my gray kitchen countertop, the utensils and appliances thereon,
my white-tiled floor, and my own shaking, queasy self.
My ears ringing, my head spinning,
I couldn’t find my phone.
I wondered if I could actually bleed out from this wound
and if my husband would return
to find my body drained on the kitchen floor
being feasted upon by our cats.
And in these moments of fear and doubt and resignation,
words filled my mind,
the most beautiful phrase ever invented,
composed in God-language,
and I knew that if this was the only thing
I ever wrote in my life,
it would be shared around the world,
and I would be immortal.
So I used my bleeding stump of a finger
to write the words on my sunshine yellow kitchen wall,
and when I was finished,
I slumped to the floor,
and everything went black.

My husband returned home in the nick of time,
wrapped my injury in a kitchen towel,
called 911,
and I was rushed to the hospital.
When I regained consciousness
and my presence of mind,
I asked him if he had read
what I had written in my own blood
on the wall
because it was the greatest thing I had ever done,
but I could no longer remember the words.
He looked away, embarrassed,
and said, “You weren’t in your right mind.
It didn’t make any sense, so
I quickly washed it away
while you were being loaded into the ambulance.
Something about a spoon, I think.
A spoon and a helicopter.
But the good news is,
I found the top half of your finger
hidden in a cat bed.
They reattached it successfully,
and you’ll have no problems writing again.”

Follow Up

Rip off the tape,
peel away the bandages,
snip the stitches,
remove the bloody drains.
Ignore the yelps of pain,
the wincing eyes.
Look critically at your work.
Not the prettiest embroidery
on a flawed sallow canvas.