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Tuesday, March 22, 2022


by Kay Newhouse

Count the time from lightning flash 
And multiply by distance till the thunder
Rolls its way inside the house and rattles all the dishes on the shelves.
In case of nuclear disaster, says that there is time
(I read) To go inside
Rinse out your hair and eyes and mouth
Take off your clothes
Like napalm child whose scream in glossy magazines
Holds still for history (I should know her name)
(This is important now)

My neighbor hides her thyroid scars in wrinkles on her neck
And tells me my old dog is fat again
And daughters should wear pink not jeans
And English is not easy (she repeats) and she grew up not in Chernobyl 
But a hundred miles away or so where wind picked up the dust 
And brought it to her through the forests
Sifting ash across her clothes and hair and face and now finding her with cancer 
These so many miles and years ago—
But it doesn’t matter (she says) остинато
You can’t see a scar that has so many wrinkles to surround it 
What’s that flower on my driveway
And I answer her with just one word
“impatiens,” I repeat to her, a little louder now

Kay Newhouse’s first byline was in Physical Review Letters, and most recent in Wildfire Magazine. She lives near Washington DC, where the cherry trees flower every spring, the fireworks are overrated, and people are more likely to talk to each others’ dogs than to each other. This is about the same as everywhere, more or less.