all spring robins everywhere but now most mornings mostly mourning doves on the wire or the wires and my left eye bloodshot in the mirror because I went to the car to cry told Eva she had robbed me of a single moment of joy in a pandemic when I tried to dance in the parking lot while we waited for food at a picnic table the soggy onion rings the softshell crab I order every year and never enjoy but I order because I remember once in my mid-twenties loving softshell crab so much I have never enjoyed it again but I had forgotten myself and started dancing for just a moment forgotten all the sorrows a song came on and I let it get into my body my body moving and mom she said stop please stop so I pleeeeease stopped and stared very hard very straight ahead I said you cannot rob me of my single moment of joy but she had so I went to the car to cry and the food still hadn’t come I went back to the table thinking of a dead woman though I myself was not dead as far as I could tell I folded my mask in thirds and tucked it under my hand not that it would blow away but that it might blow away that we might all blow away and we said we’re sorry and then my husband brought the food and finding that there are no longer salt shakers only those individual tiny paper packets of salt where the salt always crystallizes and will not come out and doesn’t seem at all as if it really came from the sea I cried again not wanting to embarrass myself or others I made myself stop poured my tiny bottle of white wine into a plastic cup swallowed hard promised myself that someday soon before the seasons change again I will go to a beach walk straight into the ocean and let a clear wave wash over me
Nicole Callihan writes poems and stories. Her books include SuperLoop, The Deeply Flawed Human, and ELSEWHERE (with Zoë Ryder White). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, Conduit, The American Poetry Review, and as a Poem-a-Day selection from the Academy of American Poets. Learn more at www.nicolecallihan.com.