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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 10: October 2021
Poem: 293 words
By Judith Terzi

Fire Season 2020

It kills me not to linger over tomato basil soup, 
half a turkey sandwich with extra mayo, a mocha 
at the mall. Though now we can dine plein air 
in killer heat under a Southern California 
blanket of smoke-choke air, mosquitoes attacking 
everywhere. Oh, to roam sans masque—now 
objet de dualité: shelter for pandemic & smoke. 
With so much time on my hands, I should be 
writing a book. I could write about Separation. 
Rage. Fear. About mornings like this morning, 
lazing in bed, grilling my brain about what went on 
yesterday, how I will inhabit this day—mirror 
for mañana. Well after mañana. Will I stand in line 
at Trader Joe’s eyeing amaryllis, narcissus, cacti 
lined up along the waiting wall? Plants aching 
for touch. Fresh cut flowers first thing you see 
upon gliding through the guarded gate, red 
shopping cart handle moist under fearful fingers. 
I could write about Zooms that friends have 
maneuvered, take-out they’ve risked. Restaurant 
parking-lot canopies they’ve dined under—a pis aller 
for solitude. Ennui. Dishwashing. And what about 
doctors’ office visits? Waiting rooms looking 
weird now. More spacious, like purses. Chairs 
shoved up against walls, stacked in closets, 
magazines exiled—like lipsticks—along with 
coffee makers & creamer & Sweet’N Low. And 
what about my husband—his three-day, non-Covid 
hospital stay? I could write about how hard 
he leaned on the passenger door waiting for me, 
then on my arm to reach the ER door. How he forgot 
I couldn’t enter with him. How hard he leaned 
on the nurse who led him away from me. My 
sobbing in the car before heading home. How bags 
of O+ blood began coursing through him—
urgently. Three bags of Separation. Rage. Fear. 


Judith Terzi
Issue 10, October 2021

is the author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay Books) and five chapbooks, including Casbah and If You Spot Your Brother Floating By (Kattywompus Press). Her poetry has been read on BBC Radio 3 and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, Lunch Ticket, Moria, and Spillway.

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