BY REBECCA LEHMANN
Trace the color of blood across the ceiling.
It is not crystals. Not a row of corn.
Not not. It was over, then not. I pulled
down my mask. I used to hide in them,
the rows of corn, when I was a child
wild on my grandmother’s farm.
It was always my grandmother’s farm.
Never my grandfather’s, who’d killed
himself in a shed my grandmother later
burned down. I pulled my mask down
just a little, then slid it back up
in the store, at the doctor’s. I ran
through the corn rows and hid
with my cousins who I was always
in charge of. We ran in the shape
of a rosary. As in mass, all of us unbaptized
and my grandmother going up to get
communion on her own while we colored
in the pews and she paid us a dollar
each to sit still. Her shame that we couldn’t
walk with her and take the wafer.
What do you do with time? The blood
that collects in the toilet of a country bathroom?
All the blood that has collected? The periods
and miscarriages, and also the blood retched
up by my grandfather, I assume, after a night
of drinking? We made crosses out of corn
sheafs and left them in the dirt,
symbols whose meaning was lost on us.
There, I was running, and I ran and I ran
to the bay, and when I reached it I put my
unchristened hands in the cold water
and washed away the dirt. That was not symbolic.
It was just water. Just hands. As in time
it would all be gone. I smeared the light
like blood across the ceiling. As in now,
time has passed, and the pandemic persists.
I steer my children among the unmasked,
try not to dwell on the dead,
on those who have yet to die,
those walking among us. And when
the resurrection comes, snow will
fill their mouths like wafers. In the morning,
I smear two blood colored swipes of paint
across my children’s faces. My children,
who when I start crying on the stairs
rush to my side, hug me and ask,
Is this the end, Mommy? Mommy,
is it? Is it finally over?