Outline of Dread
BY LORA MATHIS.
dread is a small blank room that nobody else enters
sing into it the banana leaves are shaking their floppy heads at me
the laundry needs to be changed to the dryer the dishes washed
remember the virus is best fought with soap and water 20 seconds wash scrub repeat
what a privilege it is to have water to wash your hands with
to have a bedroom a kitchen. food in the cupboard tea to steep
some say, oh if I have to be indoors for weeks I will be in prison
but they don't know
people crowded together hoping to post bail 6 feet of distance a grief-ladened impossibility
lounging in your bedroom for weeks is not the same as being pepper sprayed for refusing to sign a contract before receiving a mask
or hostile guards
or truly being imprisoned
all those rich fuckers snacking in their foyers swirling merlot in crystal glasses
entire cabinets filled with unused china &
rooms just for looking at
right now all i can do is slap my hand against my thigh
when marvin gaye’s voice peaks
BY LORA MATHIS.
While staying for months in the Normal Heights apartment of two friends,
I remained in the same mile radius.
Slipped out to the grocery store across the street
while they were still asleep--
quietly chopped the potatoes and onions,
so when they woke up there would be the smell
of a meal to share.
I can sense the capabilities of my grandmother
inside of me while my hands work over the food.
Returning to when I’d shuck corn with her while Quebecois radio
cooed in the background. An afternoon of pulling
cobwebby coating from the pale yellow kernels,
my hands tangled in thin white strings, all for a
quick Merci at the end of the meal.
My mother wants to know why my front door remains unlocked,
and the pantry filled, and I, at the rustle of a guest,
hurry downstairs to ask if they have ate.
When I visited my grandma in Montreal,
she laid out the bread and butter,
the container of cheeses and pate,
the pot of steaming pasta,
as I mixed the salad.
While pushing me away
from the soapy basin resting in the sink,
she insisted I take a dozen
blueberry muffins and assortment of stone fruits
on the bus downtown with me.
A few years later, back with my mother,
I bound up the familiar stairs first.
The door pulled open to reveal the smell of onions on the stove
and a distant swoop of the radio. Cloaked in the haziness
of aging, my grandmother squinted at me in confusion,
for a second uncertain of who I was,
but still asking, Are you hungry?