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Monday, May 25, 2020


by Sharon Olson

I was seventy-one and still counting
when I counted the grocery bags arriving
at my front door, each one labelled
I guess for the shopper’s convenience,
some mnemonic only he had derived,
Poems 1 of 8, Poems 2 of 8, and so forth,
and they were like poems, each item
of slightly different size and voice,
tuna can haikus next to sonnets of milk.

I chalked it up to coincidence, until
the next week new bags came, this time
marked Lyric 1 of 7, Lyric 2 of 7, so
we knew we were in some sort of
telepathic, telegrammatic finger-
tapping sync-apathy, as if he knew
I must write poems and would eat
to write them, not eating words
but snippets of lyric, edible syllables.

The market has stipulated one week
between orders, and I am as I said
earlier seventy-one and still counting.
And so I find myself wondering
what the next code will bring, what
subliminal message my messenger
will write to signal our connection.
He must be a poet, too, composing
behind the front lines and so essential.

Sharon Olson is a retired librarian, 71 and still counting. Her book The Long Night of Flying was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. Her second book Will There Be Music? was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2019. She lives in Lawrenceville, New Jersey where along with everyone else she waits it out. Her grocery bags truly did arrive marked as mentioned in the poem.