Some days of wine and pastry

blah blah blah 
there was a plague. 
again. gwen called it 

better than the alternative:
to live. you’d never know 
so many of us do. despite ourselves 
everyone has a story. when june asked 
what we should do those of us who 
did not die i imagine what she’d say 
if i answered: lie around drunk and bake 
bread; make cookies; never quite spread 
the tight space that crushes us.
put my foot in the grass. press 
toward grounding. pull back flesh 
like hot ice. on the boiled side of melt. 
it was cold it was hot it blazed 
and that was before the never-
ending today of plague ran viral. 
everywhere people with all 
the anger all the guns feel 
outnumbered. listen: they are. 
i guess we’re just supposed to talk 
about all this bullshit now. but

the leaves this autumn: incredible! 
how they too flaunt flames deep 
into december like they know 
how fast we forget our own spilled 
blood. walk beneath the canopy of me. see how 
i hover how i don’t so much block light as scatter light 
how i kitten yarn batter light. as fofie would say 
if for just one day we didn’t have to earn 
for just one day then who do we (want 
to) become? brown and green and recent
rainwet sets everything alight like 
the untoward way raindrops flash and prick 
each bit of waning sunlight when i come back 
around and meet myself after all this baking 
in the new dark—do i just assume, june, that 
i can remember to swim or let the current 
pull me down again? here we insist 
today did not happen here through 
all of today’s happenings here.

tfw you know horrible things happened
but you can’t remember them

tfw you remember horrible thing after horrible thing
and still you think: nope—that’s not the one

tfw there’s nothing left but feeling—
no thought—just paralysis—and feeling

tfw there’s nothing left to feel
and nothing in the lap for breakfast

so it turns out i’m allergic to society 
as a whole. when in doubt, they say, 
go back in time. when i wanna feel safe 
i figure i should want something else. 
everywhere i go everyone i see could be 
a shooter and my breasts beneath 
bulletproof vests squeeze the breath
outta me. tomorrow is another country 
even there the philosopher’s 
stone ain’t stone: bottoms out 
unexpectedly. i can’t forget water 
while i drown so why does today’s silence 
engulf so unseen and unsmelled and even 
then tomorrow is not even there. maybe 
this quiet is a star. our outer space 
treaties are older now 
than my whole generation. just as outdated. 
just as orbited by garbage and left 
to rot with our every epizootic breath. 

it is, our leaders—ha?—hee?—say, what it is.

in rome i had a red feather boa. 
i’d tickle your nose with my loosy-
goosy feathers. i ruled the stage, honey. 
long gone now, how it blazed.

Copyright © 2023 by Samiya Bashir. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 15, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.