It’s May: no fallen leaves to herd 
                      into interrogatives. Still, the wind 
           searches, calling the names of those 
                                 it’s driven out. The time 
between gatherings meanders 
                      on the year’s grid, a river 
           forced northward, like a graph 
                                 that shows the country repeating
mistakes in two different 
                      centuries. Absence takes 
           the page, swims in it like ocean: 
                                 no direction but float. An oriole 
skims the pond, his wings’ orange checkmarks 
                      confirm something about return. 
           I command my body: run 
                                 the loop again, skirt the puddle 
that collects each storm. Park staff send 
                      the smell of cut grass across 
           the highway. The long-closed exit 
                                 is open now. Let the legs scrawl 
over unmarked graves until 
                      they’re plowed and sown. 
           On walks, my daughter reaches out 
                                 to touch whatever is growing. 
The year turns over and over 
                      beneath her bare hands. 

She says this tkhine on her child’s first birthday, the world unfolding


20. Is it a common belief that the appearance and resemblance of children depends on what the mother sees during the time she is leaving the mikve and during her pregnancy?

She says this tkhine when she has stopped counting the days


Leah Falk is the author of To Look After and Use (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, FIELD, Electric Literature, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, she lives in Philadelphia and directs programming at the Writers House at Rutgers University-Camden.

About the Series: These poems are a part of our ongoing series exploring isolation, exile, and “The Everyday Pandemic.” With the arrival of COVID-19 new realities emerged. Isolation became ubiquitous. Everyday movement suddenly came with great risk. The spaces that once brought order and safety became malleable and uncertain. Throughout this series it is our hope to create an alternative conversation to the dominant COVID-19 discourse: one that captures the daily toll of life through the pandemic from the perspective of writers and artists who are familiar with the experience of isolation and exile. With this in mind, we’ve collected stories, poems, nonfiction essays, and digital art from writers and artists from all walks of life and from all around the globe.

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