The Heads of My Colleagues

are sorted into a
constantly shifting grid,
Brady-bunch style
in the video-conference

we take turns being
Alice in the middle
as our voices
crackle in and out

one broadcasting
from her car
because she needed
to escape her house

another swooping in
late with lunch
and one holds
a grinning dog

and here’s one sweet
baby with lots to say
to her tired,
tender mother

more than half of these
heads wear spectacles
and one sports
a baseball cap

and there I am,
my own head floating
in my own framed
portion of home

just touching and
touching my face
enough to make me
worry about myself—

holding my
chin in my hands,
resting my
cheek on my hand

touching my nose,
my mouth, the corner
of my eye – what
am I looking for?

the heads and shoulders
of my colleagues
float in kitchens,
in living rooms

and I squint into these
temporary windows,
curious about what I might
glimpse of their lives

among those cabinets
and light fixtures,
window treatments
and houseplants

each detail I transform
briefly into a crucial clue
each colleague made
newly mysterious

by my scrutiny, my curiosity –
or is this pandemic
tenderness blooming
across new, strange distance –

a kind of longing, and
inside this longing,
a wandering
would-be koan –

love is curiosity
is love – even if that
is neither true
nor a proper koan

I do believe just now
that I am infused
with something
like love

and I have touched
my face enough
times now that
the tears are coming

they were not
on the agenda
but the sweet baby

and cries
in solidarity
with this fraught,
sad love, this

fierce and tired
and complex
but also simple

for the heads
of my colleagues—




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