In the museum, our child opened 
her mouth and let out 
whatever lived there; 
her sound galloped forward, 
greeted its echo in the air. 

Once bound in a house 
of her needs, she now 
wished to approach 
the limits of things: 
cathedral ceiling; 
not just rain, but monsoon. 
She peered over edges 
as though wings might bloom. 

In one room, huge canvases 
scrawled with storms, peaks 
and valleys of fury. Look, 
the spoon protruding 
from a Jasper Johns, 
his stoplight row of colors. 
You know colors, you know 

spoons. She called out 
at each in affirmation, 
as if it were herself 
she saw surrounding us, 
as if she were both 
what the canvas absorbed 
and what it gave back. 

She heard her voice double 
in the scrubbed halls 
and volleyed it again 
and again to the apse—
the end of someone’s ever   
after—to see whether
it always returned.
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

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.

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.

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