For them and us

Just before the world got sick,

before the black Johns Hopkins maps 

and Covid on the weather app, 

in a crowded Chinese restaurant 

a woman leaned sharply as if tugged  

toward the man laughing across from her.  

She snapped his photo five, six times, 

then, setting her cell phone aside, 

advanced her trim, unguarded hands  

across the shiny lacquered top, 

her taut and lively face alight. 


If we’re not, we might as well be friends. 

Though we can’t touch, share food or air, 

the virus knows how close we are. 

Relentless accounts of deaths 

combine on one bewildering sphere  

with the joy those diners freely shared, 

and so I ask, for them and us, 

that our smiles bloom somehow even now, 

and we not wait like hardy buds, 

dormant, until some future spring.

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