Bio Note: Four years ago my husband and I moved from 22 years of academia in the prairies of Wisconsin to a higher altitude retirement in Western Massachusetts. Swimming in mountain lakes here is perhaps my biggest joy once the ice melts in the spring and until it forms late fall. Another pleasure is teaching poetry classes at OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) to people my age and older. I’ve been published widely in journals and anthologies over the years, but Verse Virtual has been a mainstay since 2016. Other recent pubs include Comstock Review (2nd Prize Muriel Craft Bailey 2019), Raintown Review, One, and SoFloPoJo. I am also co-editor (with David Graham) of the essay collection After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography (Graywolf) and have edited an as-of-yet unpublished anthology of poems about hair.
Don’t let things spoil. Schedule the lettuces and other perishables according to their use by dates or your own inkling of rot and mold. Note the sweet potato’s pulpy white end that needs to be cut. Create new plans for the shitakes darkening, the savoy’s edges curling inward and all those funky cheeses ripening into oblivion. We are all perishables. My advice? Spring to the tune of scallions rescued from under bunches of kale, inhale their fragrance rinsed of dirt--slimy outer layers pulled--then sautéed with cabbage and a lone red pepper that slipped through the fridge’s cracks.
Covid Notes On A Silver Standard Poodle
What creature is this from some alien race of canine myth, leftover life force rescued when the country still had litters and castoffs available. People are desperate, roll down their car windows, stop to talk in the middle of the road when we walk. Where did we get her? Such a great breed! Intelligent, friendly, hypoallergenic! Can’t they see there is nothing standard about her legendary lavender tint revealed through wanton brown cover-girl curls poofed as a topiary lamb, sprouting surreal head to tail. Oh puppy, we stare in disbelief at such Brothers Grimm style, pointed snout gleaming in profile wolfish as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma, velvety eight-month-old face shaved to show off an authentic silver lining, topknot and ears bouffant as a woodsman’s wooly cap, flaps flying mid-air, equally animal and human, anthropomorphic princess who outsmarts us, bounds ahead with leggy grace and horsey stride downstairs, leaps over dog-gate, kitchen-counter height, mouths the world, bear-long shock of pink tongue lapping up milky half-finished tea. Teeth and temperament all love-dove and ankle-bite and chew, she tastes and tests furniture, nature, patience, keeps our indoor hibiscus tree trimmed. Even home- groomed by a rare pair of barber’s scissors and fumbling fingers she lights up these rooms where we hibernate, acts like she just arrived.
This new form of distancing gives me pause with every breath. With each gloved hand that secures the mask—nose to lips to jaws this new form of distancing gives me pause like nothing else since learning the laws of intimacy as a girl. No matter the errand, this new form of distancing gives me pause with every breath, with each gloved hand. Imagine an end to distancing measures, this cause for masks to break my breath from yours and yours from mine and theirs. Our lives in the maws of distancing measures, it’s hard to recall no cause and effect. Touch me. My hands and heart grow raw from all manifestations of fabric, soap, reprimand. Imagine an end to distancing measures, no cause for masks to break my breath from yours then land.
©2020 Kate Sontag
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