Through my mask-fogged glasses, a haze of poets
gathers for a reading in real life. Though missing
the Zoom-labeled names below their faces, I know
this is the flock that has sustained me online
for the past two, three years. Tonight we read only
eyes atop unfamiliar bodies, gestures. I try to
make out the voices I have heard virtually but
sounds are muffled and mouths are missing.
My Covid-era teacher comes forward, exclaims
“Your eyes! You are Linda!” Despite all she signifies
we dare not hug, we are still in the red zone
and everyone is getting it. My beloved first teacher
is here, too. Not seen outside the screen
for years, I almost look past her, thrown off by
trimmer shape, mask and lighter hair. Some variant
of Blind Man’s Buff this is, or of life in burkas, yet
unpracticed at searching eyes for recognition.
Someone glances as if we know each other.
Maybe so. We offer up our names, realize
we have never met in person or online either
but have read each other’s posted work for years.
How I want to indulge this chance meeting
like the old days, talk unmasked, hear her voice
unmuffled. But we content ourselves with smiling
eyes, assured at least that we are living beings.