pandemic protocols

employees are encouraged to maintain

six feet of distance between at all times

but after the work day ends

meet me in my vehicle

tell me about all your bedbug positive patients

and I’ll tell you about how I intubated a baby the other day

didn’t think that was in my skill set

but guess what? perfect shot my first try

and won’t you please train on the ALS trucks yet?

we could be partners again

or, at the very least, shoot each other knowing looks

in the hospital halls, at the Pyxis restocking IV supplies

I used to know your hiding places

but you must have acquired some new ones

and if I ask about you at central, 

nobody knows your name

dare I call you my little chameleon 

or dare I call you mine at all

this time, I want to do things the right way

so I won’t stay six feet away unless I’m six feet under

run into me at shift change

and I’ll apologize for keeping you late

if I wanted to leave, I would have 

is what you said and what I wanted to hear

but it was a Friday afternoon

driving through Martin on the highway

sun streaming through my windows

to the warble of Gracie Abrams on the radio

when I realized I want to fall in love with you

want to drink apple cider at an orchard

wear matching Christmas sweaters

cook dinner with your mother

win your sisters over and over—

but maybe I’m being too forward

with you, I have never been anything else

we can take things slow

if we can only take things at all

I’ve thought about you every day for months

and my father has wanted to meet you for just as long

that’s what I wanted to tell you the other week

but I threw up so many other words around it

you wouldn’t have deemed my airway patent

give me mouth-to-mouth and bring me back to life

I would have said, if only to make you red

there, I’m doing it again

I can’t help myself


on the couch, I dreamt of setting

two equations equal and solving for x

I’d almost finished the math

when the phone vibrated by my ear

I wasn’t tired after I read your name

on the screen, long anticipated display

I wonder what you thought

about the phrase

I just like hearing from you

perhaps too bold a statement?

(I was too ashamed to admit

I’ve been accused of being overwhelming before)

perhaps just what you wanted me to say?

and when you referred to the poem

I mentioned a couple days ago,

I thought you’d found mine, the ones posted here

I wonder what you’d think about that, too

I can be overwhelming, sure,

but don’t ever accuse me of not knowing

what I want

and reaching for it

you have your doubts and your beasts, I know

I do, too

but maybe we could drop our demons

in the play pen and grab dinner sometime

(I’m sure they can keep themselves entertained)

and I can tell you all about how lupine follows

forest-fire, an over-used analogy that, 

populations thriving where others experienced mass-dying

but I find it lovely anyway, don’t you?

and I fall asleep thinking about you at night

I don’t dream about your eyes, crinkling about the corners

when you smile; I dream about my fishes dying,

running out of water, and setting two equations equal

solving for x, so that I might learn

how to keep you, how to keep me


(to-get-her, if I may be so bold to wonder,

is this task on your list of to-do’s?

because I have been wondering for a while now

when will you let me cherish you like you’ve earned?)

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