The Time by Tzivia Gover

Tzivia Gover is the author of The Mindful Way to a Good Night’s Sleep, among other books. Her writing has appeared in dozens of anthologies and periodicals from the Florence Poetry Society’s Silkworm to the New York Times. She is a member of Straw Dog Writers Guild and lives in Northampton, Mass.

The Time

Why am I keeping count as if I were
a teenager who missed her period
or a prisoner? Why do we mark our time
here on earth? Birthdays, anniversaries?
Two weeks exactly since the declaration
of emergency. Is it wrong
to use a pandemic as an opportunity
to try and get my life right?
Why did the Hebrews count
their days in the desert
in sheaves of wheat?
We’re counting the seconds it takes to scrub our hands
safe. The number of episodes in the Netflix series
we watch from the idling couch. The death counts
from negligence, calculated
violence. Let me count
the ways. Who will I be
(or not be) when this is over?
What is the number of things
you can’t count
Anymore. My mother
would count to three. Three more
rinses till my hair was clean beneath
the faucet-spray in the kitchen sink.
The number of steps around the block.
Will it be over? Strokes of the brush.
Inches till my hair hits my shoulders.
Again. I believe
it is day 39 since we shut down.
How many calories in this handful of chips?
I’ll count to ten. All ye all ye. All
come free. 44. 67. Days. What
is an acceptable number
of fears? Of decibels
of fury? We counted
the cars that passed our house
while we were waiting. Eight minutes.
46 seconds. I’m losing count. The grace
of graying hairs. Stacked pine
boxes. One golden coffin.
80-something days, I think it’s been.
It feels. Endless. What
is the time? What
will be the time
it takes?