An August Accounting

by LaDonna Witmer

•••

We have been hiding inside our homes
for one hundred and sixty six days
fearing the breath of the five million
four hundred sixty thousand
four hundred and twenty nine
the disease has infested.

Five mornings out of seven
I blink awake and exchange
one stretchy waistband
for another
just to stagger downstairs and
talk technology
with humans on screens
as we pretend
our efforts
matter.

One hundred seventy one thousand
and twelve
are dead
and incapable anymore
of caring.

The numbers on the scale
keep going up, nineteen higher
than the figure twenty-four weeks
ago, which feels more significant
than it should.

Outside the sky blurs with yellow clouds
and ash dusts the trees like an affliction
while three hundred and sixty seven wildfires
burn California from all directions.

Thirty-eight years ago the preacher told me
God numbers every hair upon our heads.
So I figure he’s tallied up
the handfuls of hair that fall
from my friend’s head in the shower
every morning, each strand
a collateral casualty of shock after
shock after
shock.

Perhaps he knows, also then, the sum
of neurons now lifeless
inside my mother’s white head
or the reason why the xray
shows one knot and one shadow
and what that means
for the months yet ahead.

I have looked for hope everywhere
vision set to twenty twenty
but now I find I must go
and create some of my own.

(written 8.19.2020)

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