Excerpt from Life at Arm’s Length by Michael T. Young


The following poem is part of our special section “Poems About The Pandemic” and appears in our Autumn/Winter 2020 issue.

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Walls are higher than they’ve
ever been, a brick and mortar mix
of disease and distance.

A man on his own in the park,
removes basketball rims from the courts
to discourage anyone from play.

Park entrances are blocked off. Police cars
circle the blocks, scanning the paths
through the bare ash and elm trees.

Magnolias down the street
light pink fuses in the gathering warmth.
My daughter lifts one from the ground.

A small lamp, perfuming her hand,
promising the annual closer of distances,
a promise that today can’t be kept:

all candlelit dinners, all relay races,
games of tag, called off—everyone now is it
and the door to every flower shop is locked.

MICHAEL T. YOUNG’S third full-length collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was longlisted for the Julie Suk Award. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. His work has been featured on Verse Daily and The Writer’s Almanac. It has also appeared in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, Gargoyle Magazine, One, Rattle, and Valparaiso Poetry Review.

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