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Downhill on a Bone Bicycle,

Dictionary for a Pandemic

a stockpile of language you never thought you’d need, 

but because the pandemic comes on so fast, 

this is so you’ll be ready for the next time, 

may it never come


                                    Margaret Parker, 2020



 alphabet, key to the interlocking puzzle parts of words, 

   families of sound, in memorized order, 

   if tossed into disarray the alphabet snaps back into place, 

   a filing system for random lost things, 

   please, be my guide through these

   unspeakable times




ambulances, sirens coming, drivers out, equipment,

   medics, questions, terror, sirens, 



animals, our wily older brothers who still can’t talk, 

            first passed this virus on to us humans  




age, older people are most susceptible to the virus, 

            (see chronic diseases, see clusters, see I)

advice from scientists:

             stay inside, stay away from your elders

advice from mothers:

   stay inside, get some exercise, 

   leave the city, leave the country,

   don’t leave me

association, a favorite social gathering 

   (see families, see forbidden, see infection)



all around the world, people wait, 

   terrified, when will it get to us?

afterwards, terrorized, when will it be over?

antibodies, grace of immunity left to the once infected, 

            will it save them 

            next time?


Americans, we’re all in this together, right?

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