#FlattenTheCurve: Five Poems by Richard Widerkehr


Now The Lion Sun

For a while, I’ve wanted to say the word disquiet.

As we self-quarantine, and the pharmacy techs,
the grocery checkers go to work,
we sip coffee from our royal-blue cups.

Fir branches in shadow at the edge
of our field make a human figure, arms upraised.
Yesterday, I saw this photo of a lion.

In that zoo with no bars, it lifted its head,
as if toward harsh savannas, sun-struck grass.

Since she saw clients exposed to the virus,
Linda has stayed home—no signs of fever,
no weakening armies of breath.

Now the lion sun
on the edges of dark, naked alders—
the moss on our goat shed glows.


Another Shooter*

When the pale sky lets in a chink of light over the rim
of the foothills, we can’t help glancing at the sun.
Last night’s news tasted like salt. Still half-asleep,
we wait, as if for a brand-new diaspora,

a city with bread and honey. As the coffee maker
brews our coffee, and the sun gets round,
more golden, we touch each other, almost afraid.
Sun like a wind, scattered from the edge

of a nebula. After two cups of coffee,
I read how police traced our latest murderer
to the Red Roof Inn near Round Rock, Texas.

How strange, to stand as witnesses this morning.
Our phone rings, numbers flash on a screen. Not in use,
says the display. The sun, this blinding gift.


Aubade: Standing Under The Eleventh Street Bridge

This bright, pale new grass in the sun.
Gray stanchions almost like pilings
at the bottom of the sea. Last night
you told me, If I die before you do,
scatter my ashes in the woods
beside some trillium. You showed
me three white petals pressed
in your book. Now as cars
cross by, the bridge gathers its weight
and starts to break in waves, as one
by one the large boards rise
and shudder.
What’s the matter?
you ask. Like this face in a rearview
mirror, like a song I cannot hear,
these words silos at dawn
within me. Under this echoing
bridge, these gray stanchions.
This faint haze of green in the air—
yes, our disquiet this April;
almost nothing happens; we wait.
When did I hear silos at dawn?
And no, this is not a prayer.


Staring West Out A Rear Window Of The Keystone Ferry*

–In memory of the men and women murdered at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

As we pull away from creosoted pilings,
there’s this cleft in the dark part of twilight,
a wash of pale blue in the west.

I scan well-lit faces in this cabin,
picture Linda safe at home. As we start
to cross the channel,

the ferry veers; I brace both hands
against the hull. No stars, no dock.
Just the glossy charcoal of this water.


After Sun-Up Near The Y Road

I’m thinking of this movie from almost fifty years ago.
A woman asked, Do you hear the bells? Someone
replied, Are you sure? As if that were an answer.
Out our living-room window now, low fir branches

almost block the light. There’s the dusty cylinder
of Linda’s bird feeder, this black metal bar bent down—
a gray squirrel hangs from its hind feet. Last night,
at our online seder, the cantor led this prayer,

Eli, Eli, Lord, Lord. Her windowsills, white walls,
high windows. Her small son slipped in and out
of the room. I’ve never seen angels up and down

a ladder, never saw Elijah. On my laptop,
her white walls. How come no shadows?
Now this gray glass cylinder sways in the sun.

I remember nothing else about the movie.



*The poem, Another Shooter, was previously published on Poetry Super Highway.  Staring West Out a Rear Window of the Keystone Ferry was previously published in Blueline.



Richard Widerkehr’s work has appeared in Rattle, Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, Arts & Letters, Atlanta Review, and others. He earned his M.A. from Columbia University and won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan. His latest book of poems is In The Presence Of Absence (MoonPath Press). He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s