March 11

Alicia Christoff
Image of COVID-19 virus. Graphic by Bianca Ibarlucea.
Graphic by Bianca Ibarlucea

The U.S. is getting serious about social distancing and I am trying to have a baby

Love in the time of: the T is empty-ish and the clinic is full
All the numbers are bad: 9% conception rate Clomid + IUI, 21% IVF
5.7% COVID-19 mortality rate, according to WHO

I wait to have blood drawn: 9 vials, 2 lab techs, gossiping brightly about a third coworker they can’t stand

In the lobby I read “March 3” by Eileen Myles: a poem creates a soft hole in the day

Down the street from the hospital I order pupusas and hate my 2nd-gen “thank you”
I listen to the easy roll of español that fills the room and feel a pelagic sadness

I wander Longwood and FaceTime my friends crying from the concrete plaza outside Stop & Shop
Motherhood is lonely decisions, they say
I mouth a distracted “I’m sorry” to a man who shuffles by asking for change and notice his face chapped white at the line where lip becomes skin

Yesterday the governor declared a state of emergency and I am the capitol reacting

The day soft holes into NY 9/11 when downtown was closed and I couldn’t go back to my dorm: I walked to Old Navy to buy a sweatshirt and sat on a bench in the mid-30s clutching the logoed plastic bag I’d filled with my Norton Anthologies
Soft holes into March 2000 when my dad dropped dead from a heart attack and my sisters and I drove to the mall to buy new clothes for the funeral

It’s warm this week Unseasonable and snowdrops are pushing through the soil on the Common
The first spring flowers, they bow their crowns to winter

Across the state my students have their own evacuation orders
They worry the cost of plane tickets, of home
The seniors go out drinking and drop tears on each other

In D.C. they are pushing through a coronavirus bill with holes in it

38 y/o females make eggs without qualities
In her office the doctor had drawn circles with columns of Xs lined up inside to show how cells split without dividing genetic material evenly

Near the state house a woman misses a step coming out of the liquor store and falls down on the sidewalk
She gets up slowly and I watch my own pitiful calculations: does she need help, can I touch her

Alicia Christoff is a Xicana writer and Assistant Professor of English at Amherst College. She is author of Novel Relations: Victorian Fiction and British Psychoanalysis.
Originally published:
March 27, 2020


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