Off to the stationery store on Avenue A 
to buy paper and metal bookends. 
At least 58 people died in Europe 
this week in a brutal cold wave, 
plunging temperatures to 17 degrees 
below zero. When I step inside, 
I’m suddenly phlegmy and coughing.  
Blood starts pouring out of my 
left nostril. A funny old woman 
hidden inside a blue hooded coat 
darts out the door. Republicans 
point at the millions of immigrant 
workers pouring into the country. 
Then I look in the mirror and see 
a funny looking old woman 
with her head wrapped 
like a mummy and a tissue stuck 
in her nose. King Tut’s mummy 
was recently removed from 
the sarcophagus, and placed 
in a climate-controlled box 
to be displayed at a museum in Luxor.  
My husband often had a bloody nose. 
Maybe we’ll find each other 
in another life. When I think of 
losing my children, I feel my body 
crack into pieces. China’s cracking 
down on subversive meditating 
disciples of the Dalai Lama.  
Be thankful for now, Barbara. 
Today. This minute. Here we are.

“Here We Are” was first printed in Talisman: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Issue 42 (2014). Included in A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press, 2015) by Barbara Henning © 2015.