During workshop, everyone mute when not sharing, please.
Lex reads her poem on Zoom.
A distressed squawking
masks her words.
What’s that shrill noise?
She removes her glasses,
looks into the lens, my parakeet.
This isn’t delightful chirping chatter, this isn’t song.
The insistent screeching grows longer, louder.
Trudy’s mate died…needs another companion.
I’d go to the pet store, but, Covid.
I adjust my posture, grip the chair’s arms,
look out the window, past
gutted red row houses into a far field.
Forget I can mute. Stop the rising squall,
the thrashing against cage.
She leaves the room—
footage of carpet, banister & stairs.
Still, Trudy’s reeling.
My mother’s memory unit
quarantined a month before
we entered the Red Phase.
Over Zoom, the masked caseworker
adjusts the iPad, over here Lorraine.
My mother moves close in, too close
to the camera, a blur.
She taps the tablet screen—
virtual pane between us.
Tells me she needs new glasses.
I won’t say her eyes are tunneling
Tells me someone stole her CD player,
she ate a chocolate shake for breakfast,
& found the love of her life, my father.
She waves him over, Mario,
it’s your youngest daughter, Ava,
pulling a man’s red sweater sleeve
into the frame. I never see his face,
this man she now calls husband.