It’s 1952 Again

We’re transplants from the clotted streets of Brooklyn to a brand new tract home next to a Long Island farm. We spend the summer catching tadpoles in giant jars of stream water. We watch them turn into slippery and hard-to-grasp toads. This place is idyllic, perfect. But only for a minute.

Darkness sets in along with a tightness in my chest.  The muck on the bottom of the stream grows like something in a horror movie. My feet are stuck  but I break away, heart pounding. 

Looking back, my best friend Johnny is caught in the muck. He turns into an enormous tadpole and I watch him disappear into the murky water. I scream his name until my mother comes. The only word I hear her say is polio.

falling from a tree the blue of a robin’s egg

Grandmother’s Pearls : An Anthology of Dream Poems

ed. Alexis Rotella

Published 2021

Midnight Shift

Only this time, I’m wearing a gown, mask, gloves and a cap just like the ones we wore in the OR years ago. Except I’m not in the OR, but an isolation unit. It’s summer and I’m sweating– moisture flows between my breasts, down the inside of my legs, my back. The mask is soaked, breath sour. As soon as I finish with one patient’s care, another is rolled in. Then another. And another.

no breath
a so-called friend
holds my head under

Grandmother’s Pearls : An Anthology of Dream Poems

ed. Alexis Rotella

Published 2021