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Thursday, September 03, 2020


by Marc Swan

Mario Guti/Getty Images via Los Angeles Magazine

Through my window I watch the older woman
across the street hold her mask
as one of the teen bathing beauties
returns from the dock. She dons her mask

and asks of the crowd—
the mid-August high tide locals
who gather each afternoon for a swim,
a paddle board or kayak ride,

a mixed bag, mostly kids,
young adults, no masks
or social distancing—
immunity of the community expected.

I try to imagine what this older woman thinks,
taking medication,
immune system compromised,
just wanting a short walk to a safe place.

I think of school reopening,
many starting in outdoor tents,
seated on folding chairs

or in some cases hay bales. Masks
for the middle and high school kids,
teachers trying to educate in person
as government leaders, some parents expect—

inspire the children, give them a social outlet,
a safe place to go
while parents toil in the work space,
play tennis at the club,
go for long walks along the shore.

If the wind picks up or rain falls
in a torrential burst     what then?

And when the virus strikes hard and deep
where will the students be?

Marc Swan’s latest collection all it would take was published in May 2020 by tall-lighthouse. Poems forthcoming in Gargoyle, The Stony Thursday Book, Nerve Cowboy, among others. He lives in coastal Maine with his wife Dd, an artist and yoga teacher.