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She thinks Zoom is a TV show,
her family: actors she comments on
but never speaks to. So we pantomime stories:

my dad the lovable fool dozing
and slipping sideways off the couch,
myself the concerned daughter, eyes wide

in Lucille-Ball shock. It’s the best I can do
when I’m distracted: by her hearing aids
floating in the glass of water,

by the turban hugging her shaggy hair,
by how she keeps turning to the nurse.
Why don’t they come in anymore?

She doesn’t understand viruses
or asymptomatic spread, having quit
school in 8th grade. And I remember

this is the girl who dyed
her birthday cakes blue, who buried
her parents and grew up to become

a two-time widow, planting her garden
with plastic flowers so one thing
in her life would never die. Grandma giggles

at the squirrel out her window,
at the nurse’s bumblebee facemask, at Mom’s
marker-stained hands as she writes

messages on a notebook and holds
it up to the camera. Glad you can still smile.
Wish we were there. Grandma frowns again,

and I grab the sharpie, drawing her poppies:
the stems leaning outward, the flowers curling,
ever so slightly, towards each other.


Leah Alsaker is a former South Dakota farmgirl and recent MFA graduate. She often turns to writing as a way to process her questions about life, and has previously had writing published in such places as Rock & Sling, Pulse: More Voices, and The South Dakota Magazine. She currently spends her time writing, folding origami, teaching, and chasing after one of her many cats.

© 2020, Leah Alsaker

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