If the Cure for AIDS,

Linda Gregerson

said someone in that earlier pandemic, were
a glass of clean water, we couldn’t save half the people here.

                                                                          If half
the workers at Tyson Meats come down with the virus we still
have a plan for protecting the owners from lawsuits.

                                                  If the phone in the farmhouse
rings when it’s long past dark and the milk …
               If the tanks at the co-op are full …

If milk dumped into the culvert makes you think of death.

My neighbor drove to Lansing in his pickup, I expect
you’ve seen the photos too. The statehouse floor. The rifles. He

                               had just culled half his herd. And while
we’re casting about for ways to summon normal, I’ve been
watching footage of the day-old chicks.
                                                                            The hundred and sixteen

thousand buried alive, it seems we can’t afford the feed.
                            Or can’t afford the falling price of
chicken. I’m mostly confused

                                                          by the articles meant to explain.
Look at the spill of them, dump truck into the pre-
          dug ditch, the mewling yellow spill of them, still

                             in the down we find adorable. Red earth.
Impassive skyscape. Skittering
                                          bits of agitation on the body of the whole.

Linda Gregerson is the author, most recently, of Prodigal: New and Selected Poems. She teaches at the University of Michigan.
Originally published:
September 1, 2020

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