Plague Poems #17
Plague Poems #19

Plague Poems #18



We used to go for months—
sometimes years
—without seeing each other,
without speaking, even,
picking right up where we left off
over dinner and drinks
when one of us flew into town.
These are the best friendships,
we insisted, then, the strongest, when
you’re not in each others’ pockets
all the time.

And now we can’t be.

At best, we must,
for the sake of love,
stand six feet away,
air hugging and blowing kisses while masked,
handing off gifts and supplies
(which have become the same thing:
yeast, flour, bleach)
like a ransom drop,
latex or nitrile between us,
shouting down the street a muffled
Goodbye! Goodbye!
thinking, I hope that’s not the last.

Even letting that thought
seep up into consciousness
feels like a betrayal, a jinx,
like asking for it.

I always thought
I’d be good at this,
being thrown into solitary
in some imaginary place
where I am persecuted for my beliefs,
whatever they are,

until I discovered I’m not,

even here in my own comfortable home.
Perhaps if it were involuntary, or
something more radical,
something more righteous,
an enemy less invisible and
more political, an act more heroic
than saving somebody else’s life
with a piece of cloth and shouting distance,
than saving my friends and loved ones,
than merely keeping the abyss
from devouring us.

‒May 13, 2020, Brooklyn
©Lee Kottner 2020


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