Take your temperature. Blow up the same red
balloon at irregular intervals; expel your breath

into the sink. Schedule Zoom calls with your dog.
Screen share every pimpled, buck-toothed photo

of your younger self to remind you who you were
and whom you’ve tried to leave behind. Read

every story you can find on the 1918 Spanish Flu:
how it spread, how it ebbed, how it returned,

how it killed and how quickly history wiped
30-50 million souls from its pages. Scissor

your old love letters and yesterday’s obits into a collage
of loss. Google the word for “death” in 27 languages.

Drift through every new Facebook group, mushroom
clusters of panicked souls searching for connection,

liking random posts in a Morse code of caring. Name
your age spots “freckles” and play connect-the-dots along

your arms in sidewalk chalk as you wait in six-foot intervals
outside the only local Trader Joes not closed for illness.

Magnify every detail of your shrunken life: post
photos of yet another home-cooked meal, your sleep-

curled cat, the first lemon fattened on a branch,
the hummingbird sexing your pink hibiscus. Fill

a jar with the dimes and nickels of these moments,
a currency you’ll invest in poems to remember

what we’ll all soon try to forget, clutching at our memories
of “normal” like fragments of last night’s dreams.

Poem originally published by Sheila-na-gig online.

Bio:

Elya Braden was born a poet, singer/actor and artist, but took an eighteen-year hiatus from her creative life so she could play “Let’s Make A Deal” as a business lawyer and entrepreneur. She is now a writer and mixed-media artist living in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in Calyx, Panoplyzine, Prometheus Dreaming, Rattle Poets Respond, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, The Coachella Review and elsewhere and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her chapbook, Open The Fist, was recently released by Finishing Line Press. You can find her online at www.elyabraden.com