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Thursday, April 23, 2020


by Pauletta Hansel

Crabgrass beneath the iris rhizomes
where my muddy fingers
can’t tell one root from another.
Meanwhile, down in the French Quarter
the rats are starving.
No tourists, no trash.
What can they do but feed on their young?
Everything wants to survive.

Inside our lungs the virus slips
itself into the Ace-2 receptors and is remade.
Scientists call what happens next a cytokine storm.
Bugler, sound the charge! An army of cells
march up from the trenches,
destroy what they can’t save.
“We have to think about this pandemic from the virus’s position.”
All it wants to do is to eat us alive.

Pauletta Hansel’s seven poetry collections include Coal Town Photograph and Palindrome, winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award. Her writing has been featured in Rattle and Still: The Journal, and on The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. Pauletta was Cincinnati’s first Poet Laureate (2016- 2018).