In the Middle of the Pandemic I Keep Typing Powerflu When I Mean to Type Powerful

So powerful, the free opera streams. So powerful, 
the Navy ship treading to Manhattan, 

my students inventing words: afterwhen, leitmarsh— 
one renames herself Golden Bird. And I am 

thinking of you, lost friend—you in the new 
Pacific mountains and the wrought-iron herb 

garden, you for whom love is grief and truth 
a weapon you hand the enemy—barbed like 

the spores of a virus, infectious and exponential. 
Will I ever touch you again? A biologist calls me 

asking for meaning. I write in my garage
until a neighbor pulls down the door. Who am I 

to exist? By what right? We’re all going to catch it 
eventually, you say, and I want to take your head 

in my hands. I was supposed to be wiser. But this 
notion of deserving—to live, to breathe easy. 

Afterwhen I find my soul again, afterwhen I know 
what to say. Oh you, oh dear one, oh precious careful 

salve. You for whom love is a demand, whose name
is an incantation—you whose name I cannot say at all. 

The letter planes are all grounded. And in this long 
sabbath month, what words do we utter but prayer? 

From Ardor (Gasher Press, 2023) by Alyse Knorr. Copyright © 2023 by Alyse Knorr. Reprinted with the permission of the author.