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Pale Lemon Square

When they say nobody rides horses anymore

what they mean is: look, the ineffable sadness

has returned, and while every mindless plant

in town is blooming, an accidental family

reunion is also growing, and my neighbors’

houses are filling up with maiden aunts.

For a time, trading was all the rage, and now

I’d like to try it again. You give me

your native handbag collection, and I will give you

my lilac soap. Later we can get carried away

and perhaps even employ a tombola. I will not,

I cannot remain in charge of prizes. Please,

you must look quickly at our fellow citizens

and tell me, do they not seem unwell? I feel so

concerned. I feel like I’ve been studying

to become a doctor forever and now, faced

with a real-world pandemic, I’m full

of unmitigated lust for business—as though

I were sitting in a high school classroom

watching the morning’s snow foster impending

cancellations and all the attendant policies. Soon,

if not at once, the library and gymnasium will be

redubbed infirmaries, and you and I will drift

among the cots like swans in ever-wider grids.

Award-winning poet of 'The Trees The Trees'. Author of 'The Crying Book'. Published in The New Yorker, Poetry, & more. Former fellow at Emory.