In Search of Lost Time


This is really
not a good time
for this virus to show up.
Not when I’m 68 years old.
Couldn’t it have arrived ten years ago
before I became

I can make myself ten years younger.
(Maybe twelve or fifteen. Why stop at ten?)
My mother did that
during the war.
she said we were safe.
They couldn’t get to us
because of the ocean.

six feet apart
no ocean protects us.
Too bad we didn’t learn to breathe underwater.

I watch television
wonder why people are standing
so close to each other.
I walk in zigzags.
My ponytail pulls at the strings of the mask
suffocating me.

At night I check the doors.
But who will sneak in now?
The virus
is the only one out and about.

How old will my grandchildren
be when I hold them again?
Will the youngest be surprised to see we have bodies attached to our heads
that we don’t live on a screen
where we touch the glass with our lips?

Sometimes it is all too much.
We must risk it.

We order take-out.
The smell the taste my god the very sight of
the dumplings

one bite
and I remember

when our whole family crowded around the dining room table
plates bring plates we don’t need silverware maybe a few serving spoons in the drawer where they always are wait a minute here are the chopsticks we asked for twelve and they sent nine the babies don’t need chopsticks but one pair is missing watch that soy sauce why is it impossible to finish a sentence don’t stand on the chair no shows while we’re eating after you can watch your show after how was your week who wants the last dumpling brownies or ice cream or both whipped cream no more whipped cream we ran out first finish your food can we please let the adults have a conversation for two minutes just two minutes okay all you kids go watch TV wait wash your hands not the babies the babies stay here wash your hands those hands are not clean why because we said so you’re still hungry then sit down on the chair yes the chair

Who knows when

We will have this again.

— Paulette K. Fire

Music by Noah Fire

Cheng Feng, Colin D, Edwin Hooper, Markus Spiske, Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge, Forest Simon, Jon Tyson, Timo Hartikainen, Belinda Fewings, Tim Mossholder, YUCAR FotoGrafik, Nick Fewings, Gabriel Tovar, Engin Akyurt, I Do Nothing But Love, Kelly Sikkema, stem.T4L, Igor Starkov, Marissa Price, Russell Sutherland
StockSnap, congerdesign
Madison Inouye, August de Richelieu, Lee Hnetinka, by RODNAE Productions, Tima Miroshnichenko, Askar Abayev
Patrick Nijhuis
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