by Ruth Goring


  1. The sea squirt is born with a primitive brain and one eye. It cruises the ocean, and when it finds a surface to fasten to, the squirt eats its own eye and brain. Without movement, it no longer needs them.
  2. Today I read this, then shut my laptop and go for a walk.
  3. I open my ragged heart to the sun and shadows.
  4. We are in a pandemic and I am gorged with news.
  5. Rotted ventilators in crowded, chaotic hospitals. Mafiosos profiting from shortages. A New York family’s pent-up week with the disease, parents and small children feverish, draped over beds and furniture like torn paper, barely breathing.
  6. The family survived. So did a friend, the father of my goddaughter. I had not known of his infection. The prayers of others saved him.
  7. The day flows through me. Grief must move, that is its nature, I let it find a path.
  8. I keep an eye on fellow walkers. Sometimes they dodge me, sometimes I swerve into the street. This is the way we love each other now.
  9. We are all viral, coated with infection, or we could be.
  10. The streets are quiet, so few cars. The air is pure and rich, it pours into me like joy.
  11. Anxious houses lean toward the sun and beg it to stay.
  12. A psychologist who designed attachment therapy says our primal need is to belong, to be close to another human being, deeply held.
  13. I live alone.
  14. My legs carry me with brave sturdiness.
  15. What poems can we write these days but lists?
  16. I swerve for you. Put an accent on each word: I write to be with you.

RUTH GORING’S poetry collections are Soap Is Political and Yellow Doors; her poems have appeared in Rhino, Calyx, Iron Horse Literary Review, and many other venues. She also writes and illustrates children’s picture books (Adriana’s Angels / Los ángeles de Adriana; Picturing God). Her homes are Chicago and Colombia. Find her at ruthgoringbooks.com.


Photo: “Sea Squirt (Rhopalea sp.)” by Bernard Dupont