By Cynthia Atkins
I owned your dirty thoughts, lying
in the afternoon shadows. It’s 3 pm,
the streets are desolate. The backlit dive
where we met has replaced me with
your new mistress, hair as green as a virus.
Our love got caught in the no-fly zone
of human distancing. The hands that used to pull
my hair from your sweaty face, are now slicing
Pb & j’s on the counter. After school sports
and play dates, canceled. My hair is growing
out white, like the finger lakes
in winter, but it’s not winter, it’s April
and the buds are calling our names.
You once said there was nothing more sublime
than my neckline shadowed against the fire-escapes.
I knew each portal, each cavity your body kept.
There’s a reaper in the stairwell, listening
at the doors, keyholing all the despair.
Tonight, you’re all in the living room, TV and popcorn.
The cozy family snuggled up. Your wife stretches out,
wearing my ankle bracelet. This pestilence writes
an elegy with toxic ink—A world-wide brush with
death, to tell us, there’s no place for lovers in a war zone.
Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers, In The Event of Full Disclosure (CW Books),and Still-Life With God (Saint Julian Press 2020), and a chapbook forthcoming from Harbor Editions, 2022. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Diode, Green Mountains Review, Indianapolis Review, Rust + Moth, North American Review, Seneca Review, SWWIM, Thrush, Tinderbox, and Verse Daily. Formerly, Atkins worked as the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America, and has taught English and Creative Writing, most recently at Blue Ridge Community College. She is an Interviews Editor for American Microreviews and Interviews. She earned her MFA from Columbia University and has earned fellowships and prizes from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Writer’s Voice, and Writers@Work. Atkins lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, Virginia, with artist Phillip Welch and their family. More work and info at: www.cynthiaatkins.com