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.