Santa Fe poet laureate Elizabeth Jacobson curates another set of topical poems by local scribes.
BREAD IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
Spelt levain bouche
cracked ark golden yurt
baguette’s bark canoe challah’s fat hips
Unbraid and eat
in a dark kitchen
in bed under cover on the back step at dawn
craving as if breast as if moss and mountain
as if cool walking pond and dew
Black bread of my ancestors manna that bandages
banned non-essential mold inducer
cause of the doughy midriff
Multi-seed and local equal opportunity
factory-bagged and trucked cross-state
waited-in-line-for neighbor-to-neighbor bread
Fill our rooms with rising
scent of a future eyes closed teeth into
Christ bread Jehovah bread bread of Allah
bread of children bread of refusal
bread of my seclusion
tough as a belt that holds us together
crisp as ice that shatters into song
Yeast water salt
What Moses survived without
I am ravenous
Loaf of Covid loaf of grief
loaf of what’s offered and
May there be bread of a new year
challah round as a labyrinth
strewn with cinnamon and raisins
maze of our craving bread
of our saving
Barbara Rockman is the author of Sting and Nest, winner of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award and to cleave, winner of the National Federation of Press Women Book Prize and a finalist for the International Book Award. She teaches poetry at Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families, Santa Fe Community College, and in community workshops.
It wasn’t the firecyclones or murder hornets
that caught me most unaware, though if they’d
been closer to home, if they’d burned or bored
through the solid parts, the parts I once scoured
every heart of my girlhood then singles bars
and college classrooms for
until I secured one firm enough to trust
just a little with my life, if they’d come
that close, then I’d have lit another candle.
No, it wasn’t the worst of the traumas or the
everyday eeriness either, the coin shortages and lines
outside the grocery stores. Not the ash
gathering at my doorsteps. The sores
at my gums. Not my neighbor who first hoped
this plague would be a street sweep, a solution
to the homelessness and IV drug user problem,
before she and her family, every member
ages seven to fifty, came down with it.
Not that I didn’t call her out for her sickness —
a desire to slaughter tucked behind a cinderblock
fence. It was all of these things and none of them.
But the maskless woman before dawn —
in shorts and high socks, no shoes, approaching
the smoking gas station attendant, who masked
up in seconds, though her cigarette was only half
smoked, surely her break at least five minutes
longer, and kept a coffin’s distance between curb
and sliding doors as she returned too quickly to work.
The maskless woman, whose wandering has stuck
with me. Her face against the flickering light.
Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican American poet who has received NEA and PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowships and is the author of two novels and four full-length collections of poetry — Rosa’s Einstein from University of Arizona Press, and Trinity Sight and Jubilee from Blackstone Publishing. Her work has appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, Poetry, Salon, and many others. She raises her two children in Albuquerque.
ABECEDARIAN CONCERNING THE VIRUS
Another day in quietude, we
banter over chat and phone. I say I miss
crowds, a crush, but no, it’s not
din I miss so much as dinners,
eight bodies around a table,
friends in the yard, wine bottles
glowing in stripes of sunlight,
honey-colored liquor pooling
inside the bottom of a glass,
jewel-like. I miss the aesthetics of friendship,
knowing what a certain look means,
leaning forward to connect eye space.
My life is charmed, yes: I have
no broken bones. The cat sleeps tucked in the
O of my armpit and wakes me before dawn
purring me towards her food bowl.
Quarantine is not quite accurate; I leave my little
realm to troll the neighborhood whose
streets are rife with over-walked dogs, restless packs of
teens, huddled, maskless. I wait
up late in my yard watching moon glow
veneer last year’s sunflower stalks into silver
wicks. I speak my luck to
Xipe Totec, Aztec god responsible for plagues and Spring,
yes, that unlikely mix we’re tangled in just now,
zenith of calamity and sneezes.
Rebecca Aronson is the author of Anchor, forthcoming from Orison Books in 2021; Ghost Child of the Atalanta Bloom, winner of the 2016 Orison Books poetry prize and winner of the 2019 Margaret Randall Book Award from the Albuquerque Museum Foundation; and Creature, Creature, winner of the Main-Traveled Roads Poetry Prize (2007). She has been a recipient of a Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, the Loft’s Speakeasy Poetry Prize, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to Sewanee. She is co-founder and host of Bad Mouth, an Albuquerque-based series of words and music.