By Sarah Twombly
Don’t worry, I say to my screen, where Zoom has frozen my colleagues into solid, black cubes, but to whom I am speaking anyway, because I am not late, I made it, I am here, just barely here, or maybe here, but not completely; a semblance of parts are here, for instance my right-forefinger and the crook of my knee are here, while my tiptoes are outside doing their best not to topple while stringing up the Christmas lights, and my lap is downstairs on the couch, overfull of children who are, like me, home and not home, here and there—and somedays neither here nor there—and my heart is in my chest, locked in place by my breastbone—I feel it beating—but my vasculature has sprung a leak or been mis-plumbed, because my blood, instead of flowing to my right-forefinger or my big toe, is flowing to Nora’s father who, yesterday, was admitted to the isolation ward in Jordan, and my oxygen is circulating through Jodi’s daughter, contact-traced just this morning and now quarantined; my breath is caught in the naked fingers of the beech trees outside, struggling to rise, to fall, to flow; my guilt is downstairs, abandoned with the groceries on the counter—boxes like sentries, announcing my neglect; and my fear—my precious fear—is trapped across the street with my neighbor who is speaking, again, of stolen elections and the plight of women under progressive regimes, how girls will be forced to go without make-up and to wear pants—dear god, my fear says, not pants! anything but pants—while the meteorologist is whispering to my ears, which have been attached to the radio for days and days, that the weather will be warm again today; seasonably, unseasonably, who can say: my temperature regulation has been stranded in Tonga, where foreigners have not been allowed in or out since March; March, my hair is still in March, a heap of, it deserted on the bathroom floor, after my husband drew the scissors closed and promised, “I got this."
Sarah Twombly’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Prairie Schooner, Esquire Magazine, and Scary Mommy, among others; she lives in Bangor, Maine.
"Before and After," mixed media by Jodi Paloni.