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Friday, August 07, 2020


by Iris Jamahl Dunkle

The swab goes deep enough to eliminate
doubt—We stay bubbled in our vehicles, 

press our IDs to the car window's glass—
The doctor's scrubs and PPE are the color of Easter eggs—

The sky blue as a calm sea. When I look up 
and open my mouth to let them insert 

the swab to touch the back of my throat, it burns
with my own fear. Hours before 

a helicopter hovered just feet above my home and I
didn’t know what it was looking for: 

downed power lines to prevent future wildfires or 
another hidden violence I've yet to know.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle was the 2017-2018 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA. Her newest poetry collection West : Fire : Archive will be published by Mountain/ West Poetry Series in 2021.  Her other poetry collections include Interrupted Geographies (Trio House Press, 2017) Gold Passage (Trio House Press, 2013), and There's a Ghost in this Machine of Air (Word Tech, 2015).  Her biography Charmian Kittredge London: Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer is forthcoming from the University of Oklahoma Press. Her poem “Listening to the Caryatids on the Palace of Fine Arts” poem will be featured on 100 buses as part of the San Francisco Beautiful and Poetry Society of America Muni Art 2020 campaign. Her works have been published in Tin House, San Francisco Examiner, Fence, Los Angeles Review of Books, Split Rock Review, Taos Poetry Journal, Pleiades, Calyx, Catamaran, Poet's Market, Women's Studies, and Chicago Quarterly Review. Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is the Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers' Conference.