There’s a virus and we will all eventually and
unintentionally get it, unless the weather
warms. Then one day it will vanish like rain.
The scientists and the poets can’t cure it.
They can’t even turn to verse that formula for salt
the academies like, find a Latin declension.
I understand for the first time that the indicative mood
of the heart is that it beats.
Someone, no—everyone—asks me to believe
in colorless people wearing masks of concern
but I am unable to believe the pale ones
who never speak in the subjunctive mood
the mood of hopeful suspension, not the past tense
that knows only that not to think longer on the thing
is the resignation of the body
to the final the emptiest argument
of is, animalculi practicing necropolitics
while a Microsoft Team Grief Meeting
substitutes for the schoolchild’s funeral.
Eventually we will find the hermeneutics of salt
not in encomiums for our dead but in our tears.
One day this will vanish like rain
One day the weather will turn warm
Some people might be better just as memories
Our miseries will no longer be wash-and-wear
One day the last dendrite
holding the last neuron in place
will snatch back Atropos’ shears
at the snipping point, and mercifully,
let us just keep dangling.
Pamela Sumners’ work has been published or recognized by about forty journals and presses from 2018 to 2021. Her first collection, Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones, was published in December 2020. Her first chapbook, Finding Helen, won the Rane Arroyo Prize and was published in April 2021. A native Alabamian, she now lives in St. Louis wife her wife, son, and rescue dogs.