The furnace that heats our bedroom just broke and I have been worrying about the people Back East. Growing up during the Cold War, when we had cold snaps in Massachusetts nobody used the word “bomb’ for a Nor’easter. We did take our weather seriously and tried to predict it with almanacs, good noses for weather, or checking out the local creatures. I hope you enjoy my pandemic poem.
I reach out into the chilling, damp woods.
Rub a bristled red and black wooly bear
to foretell the depth of winter snow.
The wild creature curls up in my hand,
uncurls, tastes me with its mandibles.
Each pair of feet carefully detach from my skin
to arc up like a rearing snake,
or lean back as if to serve in badminton.
The caterpillar falls, crawls
forward, tickling my fingers.
I rub the gray buzzcut I just
gave my husband. His hair is prickly, yet soft.
Days inch by and lengthen out to weeks
only to molt and repeat.
If I were a woolly bear,
I would take our hair clippings
to spin a cocoon.
He and I could be wrapped inside together,
adding more to the 18,000 nights
we have already spent in our down bed.
After thousands of moltings,
we step-by-step, day-by-day toward
when we each unfurl
our amber Isabella Tiger Moth