Easter is cancelled. We are separated by the novel coronavirus. We will not break bread this year, we will not pray together around the table with our niece and nephews and our sister. It is a hole in my heart. Our last supper was a bowl of tripe, smothered in hoisin and sriracha. We were at Pho Del Bau, where years ago an irate old woman caught us smoking pot behind someone’s van in the parking lot. She threatened to call 9-1-1. The best we could do was slink past her, turn to shadows on the side street, running behind the fence, zig-zagging lanes until we lost her. Then, reclaiming the utilitarian warmth of the camp-style tables, we landed, giddy from the chase and frost and smoke. The tendon soup was salty sustenance, and the green tea brought us down to the table we had come for. Maybe it was the little burst of adrenaline in the adventure that cemented it for us, or maybe it was the steaming heaps of cheap noodles, but the plain pho hall on that corner became our place. Whenever I came back, we would go, talk about where we’d gone and what we’d done and what we hadn’t done, slip away for a sip of our own. I couldn’t tell if the end of the world was nigh, but it was coming closer than ever before.
This time, I told you I was certain that a quarantine was coming, and I wouldn’t be back home for a while. I said, If this is it, know this cumin cup of broth with you is the most important thing there is. That is how it has been for me since you were born. You always had a shell-shocked expression, even when you were two and I was fifteen. It is this face I see now, the same face I saw at our father’s deathbed, when you looked straight at me and said, Now for sure, if it weren’t for you, I really would be totally alone. And you turned back to him, pulled the sheet over his cold teeth. His hand still in yours. I saw in that terrible silence how the knuckles were knobby, and the fingers slim, like yours, like mine.
is from Toronto, Canada. Her prose poetry and small fictions are widely published in literary journals and anthologies, with recent or forthcoming appearances in Gyroscope, Free Flash Fiction, Bright Flash, Club Plum, Red Eft, and Indelible. A recent story won first place in a contest at MacQueen’s Quinterly, and her work has been nominated multiple times for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Her most recent of five poetry collections is Pretty Time Machine: Ekphrastic Prose Poems. Some of her works have been translated into Urdu. Lorette is founder and editor of The Ekphrastic Review (established 2015), a journal devoted to literature inspired by art. She is also an award-winning visual artist, with collectors in 25 countries from Estonia to Qatar.
Visit her at: www.mixedupmedia.ca
Artist’s column in Good Food Revolution:
Wine and Art
A Review of Pretty Time Machine: Ekphrastic Prose Poems
by Jenene Ravesloot (4 February 2020) on Facebook
Fresh Strawberries, an ekphrastic prose poem in KYSO Flash
(Issue 11, Spring 2019), nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize