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Sunday, July 12, 2020


by Bonnie Naradzay

"Zeus the Blind Owl" The original watercolor painting is by Artist Sinclair Stratton.

This morning we loaded cardboard boxes of vegetables
into the trunks of cars. In each box, we put a card:
"How to: Broccoli," in tiny print, one side in Spanish.
How to choose fresh broccoli. But it had been chosen.

Families stayed in cars for hours in July's fierce heat.
In church we have prayed for the virus to go away.
You can buy human remains pouches on Amazon.
The zipper locks are guaranteed to keep the liquid in.

A man in the car line going up the hill stood outside,
bent over his battered Dodge Caravan, hood up, trunk held
in place with Bungee cords. Steam rose from the radiator.
The Great Pretender said he'd save the statue of Christ in Rio.

Last week, no form, no advice on Broccoli. Today,
to receive the USDA box, they must fill out a form:
name, address, the number in each family group.
The rule: one box per family, no matter how many.

How to eat it raw with a dip, how to stir fry, steam.
But we have seven in our family, one man pleaded.
Our group gave him two. A small boy waved at us
from the back seat.  I saw the careful handwriting,

apartments disclosed, streets, so painstakingly done,
 all for a box of surplus white mushrooms, broccoli,
head of iceberg lettuce.... Some boxes sagged.
There’s a Gaelic name for victims of bubonic plague

entombed in an Irish burial mound.  A plague hill.
Who sees the forms? One woman said, "We are illegal.
We don't want to put our names down on anything."
The young man in the passenger seat looked ahead.

In church we now regard the virus as a wake-up call.
I nodded, put two boxes in the trunk of her small blue car
that sputtered, set to break down.  Mute me on Zoom.
The Pharisees held out for handwashing, we were told.

The virus wants our lungs. Hart Island is our Potters Field.
Camus said we are owls blinded by too much light.
She told us the truth, and the truth will set us free.
Then my eyes stung; I could hardly see.

Bonnie Naradzay’s poems have appeared most recently in American Journal of Poetry, New Letters (Pushcart nomination), Kenyon Review Online, RHINO, EPOCH, The Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, TheNewVerse.News, Ekphrastic Review, One; and poems are slated to appear later this year in AGNI and others.  In 2017 she graduated from St John’s College (the Graduate Institute), in Annapolis, Maryland.  For many years she has led poetry workshops at a day shelter for the homeless (Miriam’s Kitchen) and at a retirement center, both in Washington, DC.