Desire in the Time of Pandemic by Carole Greenfield

Desire in the Time of Pandemic

Something that I never did and now do every day
Count the hours that forever keep our lives apart
Tick them off my fingers one by one, each time I say
The only way that this will end is with a broken heart.

Count the hours that forever keep our lives apart
While our energy connection yet spells us and enchants
The only way that this will end is with a broken heart
Still we edge ever closer to the possibility of chance.

While our energy connection yet spells us and enchants
Our longing yearns across the continents and oceans
Still we edge ever closer to the possibility of chance
Reason is submerged beneath the storms of our emotions.

Our longing yearns across the continents and oceans
Before desire’s rising tide, my defenses crumble
Reason is submerged beneath the storms of our emotions
All I want to do is take you into bed and tumble.

Before desire’s rising tide, my defenses crumble
On soul and body level, we both know what we are missing
All I want to do is take you into bed and tumble
We shall spend those endless counted hours kissing.

On soul and body level, we both know what we are missing
Tick them off my fingers one by one, each time I say
We shall spend those endless counted hours kissing
Something that I never did and now do every day.

by Carole Greenfield

Editor’s Note: This lovely pantoum’s repetitive form perfectly captures the tension of love, desire, and distance.

In the Bakery by Carole Greenfield

In the Bakery

Sienna-skinned, she waits on us,
patient behind glass, silver trays
balancing cakes, pies, a fragrancy of cinnamon
spiking the close air.

Behind her, hollows in the wall,
dug-out shelves of adobe
painted white and dark with bread,
loaf on loaf stacked above her head,
her hair the nut-brown of crust.

My father is troubled by verbs.
He points at what he wants,
a crumble-topped cake shaped like a color wheel
shading buttercup to maple. It’s his favorite.
She knows from months of Sundays
and smiles, wrapping.

‘Anything more?’ she asks politely, her syllables
slowed for him. He nods.
‘Two of bread,’ he answers, and I love him
for his firm awkwardness.
She twists her body carefully,
as if she were trying to protect it,
and searches the depths of the loaf-homes,
shelf on shelf of variegated breads, wheat and rye
and other grains whose names I haven’t tasted.
‘Light or dark?’ she says to my father, but her words
sift past the mes of his limited vocabulary
and he stands on the floor, helpless and smiling,
clutching his cake.

Before I can lean up and whisper,
she strains across the counter.
The smells of yeast and sugar seep out from her creases
as her fingers touch my hair. ‘Like this?’
and then, retreating, taps her own crown,
shining walnut in the dim interior. ‘Or like this.’

My father’s heavy eyelids lift. He stares at the woman
whose face is lighted in reds and browns,
covers my head with a weight that cups
my skull and soothes, and smooths.
‘Like this,’ he tells us. ‘Like this.’

by Carole Greenfield

Editor’s Note: This narrative poem offers the reader the resilience of love over time and the kindness of strangers as we navigate our often difficult world.