Pandemic Contact by Janine Roberts

Janine Roberts, Professor emerita, UMass, Amherst, lives on Leverett Pond in Franklin County. She has published a book of poems, The Body Alters (Slate Roof Press); Tales and Transformations: Stories in Families and Family Therapy (Norton Press); as well as two books on rituals, numerous personal essays, and some 70 articles.

Pandemic Contact

Hike summer trail; spider draglines catch
on eyebrows, along skin above lips.
I leave them, their cling wanted
touch in these isolate times.

Swish of mountain laurel against my hips,
sticky white & pink blossoms clasp shorts.
At the summit, sight Monadnock peaks,
comfort of their usual proximity.

Later I row. Blue purple outlined-
in-black dragonfly lands on
my wrist – clutch of spiny legs
as it rides to pond’s end where

Monarchs cluster in sand, tongues unfurl
to puddle* salts for their sojourns south.
One flickers up, then down onto
my skull as if to remind me

I too need to head south for daughter’s
next surgeries – new cases of Covid
50,000 a day. How to travel
so I can safely, gently, hold her?

In bed, need respite, calm – splay
right palm over my heart – left
across my womb; body memory,
tiny pummels of her fists and feet.

*puddle means “to absorb”