In a State of Emergency by Fran Westwood

POEM NAME: In a state of emergency AUTHOR NAME: Fran Westwood POEM: After reading Cameron Awkward-Rich’s Meditations in an Emergency i. I wake and the strange dream does not evaporate. Highways empty. Store shelves clear. The wind on the beach. The photo of doctors from Wuhan moving now with their bags to Italy. Silent office towers, a cloud of pigeons, dust. Silas watches weeks of theatre income disappear and the lights at Bare Market dim before its official opening— More to be announced. West Park home bars visitors. In a plaid blanket in a corner chair my grandma sits alone. Down the street Mezes flips its sign to Closed. Through the window under wine glasses hanging unused the owner clings to his wife. Within days nations learn a new lexicon. The language of disease—a word reorganizing worlds. Occasionally I can hear the solitude of water speak, but mostly I search for small boats between our islands— on the subway heading east two curly heads brush too close under old summer festival advertisements, on the street corner a little girl in a knit sweater and blue wool bobble hat stops to stroke a stranger’s cat, on the kitchen table a scrawled note I’ll let you know how today plays out— ii. This week, is it any different from so many others? I prepare jalapeno pinto beans, cilantro-lime rice, slice avocado. It’s the right time of year to notice tulip buds breaking surfaces of mud born from frozen soil and sun, to hold coffee, wander the bowing boardwalk slats. On the beach a girl plays catch with her dog. By the sand someone set up towering wind chimes. They tremor a song. This week, between us is the difference. As yet unaffected bodies keep our distance. Us, a reincarnated word. Love keeps us apart. Untouched but unsettled. Still arriving in the odd silence. This week, meals prepared, eaten alone. I walk, notice the tiny vessels of green. The stranger throwing her ball. The empty cafe. A husk of a lullaby. Your face, your voice on the other end of a line, wherever you are kept. You said Can I call you? You, speaking to somewhere text alone can’t reach, but these scrappy words, they do try. END OF POEM. CREDITS: Copyright © Fran Westwood Previously published by Ekstasis Magazine (Spring 2020) Fran Westwood is an emerging Canadian poet writing from Toronto. Her work has been published by or is forthcoming in Contemporary Verse 2, The Hopper, Snapdragon, Prairie Fire, The Night Heron Barks, Inanna’s Canadian Women Studies journal, Stay journal, Sunlight Press and others. You can find her online - @fran.westwood (instagram)