Pandemic Files

From "You Were Never Lovelier"

Ryan Black

Yesterday, my mother visited her sister
for the first time since June.

Her sister lives in a nursing home.
An aide tested positive. The residents were confined

to their rooms. She tells me about it over breakfast.
Instant oatmeal. The clock radio sighs

a report on the confirmation hearing.
I catch a few words, phrases, like conversations

overheard in a restaurant. “Severability” and “stare decisis.”
“Walk in like a royal queen.” “They’re gonna push it through

with a straight face,” my mother says.
My attention’s been poor. She doesn’t mind. She knows.

The weather was warm for her visit. They sat in a garden,
surrounded by hydrangea, six feet apart.

Ryan Black is the author of The Tenant of Fire and the chapbook Death of a Nativist. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Queens College.
Originally published:
March 14, 2022

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