Was the Summer 1967 was the Summer of Love in San Fran. 2020 has been the summer of cucumbers (and coronavirus). So many cucumbers Because we joined a CSA And every week there are at least Four or five in our box--all kinds: English, Common, Kirby. One week they gave us dill too And said, "make pickles!" But we didn't do it--now it's been weeks and weeks, We still haven't done it Even though the cucumber onslaught continues Just like the coronavirus. 2001 was the summer I graduated high school, 2005 college, 2010 PhD. 2011 was the summer I got married. 1997 Bone Thugs-N-Harmony topped the charts with Tha Crossroads And the first boy to ever flirt with me Wrapped his hand around my waist and squeezed So hard his fingertips dented the bubblegum in my pocket. A cucumber wouldn't have been so malleable, But I didn't have too many of those back then.
New Glasses When you wear a mask to Try on glasses, you can see Whether the glasses will Fog up on your face. But you don't really know How they'll look on you without the mask. But you do know you are being safer For the sake of the sales associate Who'll clean all the frames you try on And who says "maybe this will all Be over soon" relaying a hope In him that's died in you.
When You're the Ma'am Guess what? The power's out again. And there's a big roach, The kind that splatters, Crawling up the wall. Ew. And the power won't be on till 12:30pm So we can't open the fridge to make breakfast Even though you just worked out. And the medicine you need right away Will be delivered in 1-2 days Due to miscommunication and a malfunctioning website. "Ma'am you need to calm down." That was me. I was the ma'am. And they gave me twenty minutes on hold To cool off. Later walking the drugstore aisles I chased away my cares with consumerism Like it was the before times Buying toothpaste, toothbrushes, cheap eyeglass chains, And picking up my prescription. I believe you have me filed under "Ma'am."
The Recital They danced to the Taylor Swift song Lover Three girls in moss green gauzy dresses Channeling through their ballet movements The longings of an adult woman in love. I danced like them once In an itchy yellow tulle skirt To the Bright Sunshiny Day song Which is why I'll always remember the movie Cool Runnings. I danced at the Emery Theatre in Cincinnati A venue with two balconies, two thousand seats, A grand stage, and a giant green room Where I sat scratching with my classmates Before and after our turn on stage. These three girls danced in a parking lot In taped off squares they couldn't cross No matter how much the music moved them.
Blind Banana Last weekend we lost power The same day the water went out. No, we're not behind on our bills. It happened to our neighbors too Who asked us, "Is your water out?" "Yes," I said. "This happens here." At 5:30am, I woke up David So we could buy ice at our Neighborhood gas station that's become Much brighter ever since they built Those nice houses across the street from it. I wanted the ice to save the food in the fridge. Before we left the house, David handed Me half a banana in the no power darkness And said, "Eat this." It was covered in banana hairs But I couldn't see them So I just ate. We only lost a beef shoulder to the outage And the boil water advisory was lifted the next evening But we'll be living in a pandemic for a long while.
90's Nostalgia David bought eight fish For our backyard pond-- We call the biggest Hootie And the rest are just the Goldfish.
Cases Climbing US cases climbing--we're on the rise-- And banned from traveling to Europe. I don't blame them. This time last summer I was finding Comfort among strangers at the Louvre, Riding the metro, dining indoors. And now--none of that. This wouldn't be over if our president Had addressed the crisis competently, But it wouldn't be like this. Mask-less masses flooding to malls and bars In the name of individual liberty, Tasked with restarting the economy Our leaders failed to protect. How long must we traverse the Yellow Brick Road to the capitalist's Oz Before we look down and see its path littered with lives lost. When will we recognize the haze around Emerald City As our planet's global warming problem. When will we comprehend our pursuit of normal As a threat to our collective existence. Not today apparently, America.
Barbershop Existentialism I gave my first haircut on a Sunday afternoon. My training--a six minute YouTube tutorial-- That taught me how to fade Hair cut with size 2 clippers Into hair cut with size 4. (The secret is size 3.) Afterward I swept my husband's hair Into a plastic sandwich bag Unwilling to part with his locks. Last week on a cemetery walk A friend and I discussed what we would do with ashes, Ours and others. I'm afraid to possess ashes Or linger about myself on a shelf. I fear violating a local ordinance with My last bodily act if I'm scattered to the winds. Internment seems like my best option, perhaps in an unmarked grave, Because all memorials fade and chip and erode, Giving in to the entropy of the universe. I hang on to things like hair and souvenirs and diaries In hopes that they will gain significance, But in my most anxious moments, I sometimes wish all traces of me would vanish. We are from dust and To dust we shall return. But where did dust come from? And who needs a haircut?
Grocery Jokes My first trip inside a grocery store Since March. A woman stood too close to me in the salt aisle. A mask-less man laughed too near me by the potato bins. I used to love the sound of laughter, Eliciting it from the crowd, But now it makes me think of projectile molecules-- A force behind the spread of germs. And I'm not so funny anymore, Only David here to hear my jokes. He's been telling better one's lately.
Glute Bridge to God I returned to work last week, Leading workouts in a parking lot. I was lying on the ground in a glute bridge hold When the sun escaped a cloud And struck my eyes, Blinding me like Paul on the road to Damascus. I wanted to call out to God, But my mask was suffocating, And anyways it was time to give instructions For the next move.
This is to tell you what side I'm fighting on When we look back at our Instagram timelines, We'll see a black square That marks the week Black Lives Matter Jumped ahead of coronavirus in the headlines. And rightfully so. Systematic racism has been around for centuries Doing untold harm. When we look back at our Facebook timelines, We'll see our public statements Vowing to be anti-racists. We'll see the book recommendations we shared, The links to petitions we signed, The bail out organizations we supported Because nine minutes is too long to kneel on A man's neck. Archivists will catalogue pictures of A looted Target, A police car on fire, Cops kneeling alongside protestors, Peaceful protestors attacked with tear gas, The president holding up a Bible, And they'll wonder about the goodness Of those involved Like we've debated heavily amongst ourselves. The hindsight of history has taught us That people--good, evil, human--can easily Be swept up in bad systems-- Systems that enslave, incarcerate, or kill unjustly. Systems that sick neighbors at each other's throats. I believe we're better served by being critical of our system Than we are by defending the goodness of ourselves or our ancestors. There's a toll to silence. There's a toll to inaction. There's a toll to looking the other way. Too many have paid the fines for our indifference. It's time to make a change.
Studying In college, I took a class in public policy. It was one of my harder classes. I wrote a report on the HUD. We studied a famous plane crash (unrelated). I think it happened in the state of New York Sometime in the 80s. I could be wrong. It wasn't Sully's landing. That was later. The problem in the crash we studied Happened during the landing. My government professor, A lean older man with a bald head and wire rimmed glasses, Commented that most problems occur during takeoff or landing, Which has made me feel better in flight ever since. I was a nervous flier in college. Today, I am a nervous pandemic participant (unwillingly drafted). I wonder what future public policy students Will learn about the coronavirus response And how it might make them feel better--compress their fears Like studying that plane crash did mine.