I only need to show my face at work sometimes; most of what I do is online. Since the bug though, it’s that way for almost everyone.
We ping-pong every other week, her place or mine, four hours each way in my sealed car at eighty, like a transport pod in Musk’s Hyperloop, but we have windows.
truck packs race in slow motion
shredded treads, bright fog
roadkill, tunnel mouth
cops at every overpass
glaring like the dazzling sun.
Once we stopped in Breezewood for crackers. The manager was terrified – he checked each of us at the door for a mask and for any hint that we had come for his head.
Just this Friday, my office computer went down. I’m not essential, so I called someone who was to push the reset button. The grand-baby was born on Friday too. We drove up first thing Saturday, watched little Becky while dad helped mom in the hospital, then drove back, four hours each way.
broken trees laid flat
cell towers and billboards
Jesus Saves . . . Fresh Cracked Eggs
hog barns, silos, Keep America Great
When will we reap the whirlwind?
We’re hoping mom and baby come home today, and we’re waiting two weeks to see if we got the bug, or they did.
Driving back, south Jersey was empty, and dark as a closet. Some fool sat in the blind spot on my bumper for half an hour. We were frightened, and enough is enough. I slowed to get his tag number, not so easy since he slowed too. I turned on the dome light and dialed nine-one-one as we passed him.
flags on every porch
church buses on cruise control
chain reaction pile-up
Are you confused? Trust Jesus
One Eight-Hundred Four truth
He bore off on an exit just then; maybe the cops got him, maybe not. I wonder if he had a pistol and what would have happened had I.
Legacy of the Golden Calf
She had my love
and her twin sons,
their lives filled with learning and prayer,
each with twelve children of their own.
I recited the prayers with them,
a thousand men close around me,
women in a mezzanine at the back,
the great schul at seven-seventy Eastern Parkway
the world’s home for their faith.
When we said the aleinu,
they all spit on the floor
and on each other in the crush,
disgust for idols, to cleanse
that ancient taint to the tongue,
and because their Rebbe had spit
forty years before.
These days with the bug,
how many will bear death home
to those open wombs?
After, we sat, all together at dinner.
I asked if the women spit too –
I asked out of disgust
and for the children.
No one answered
and I never saw her again.
Lock-Down Three Times
Flashing lights across the street, and down at the ball field, and in the bank parking lot the other way … Men in Black was on TV, the news flash: “Armed robbers still loose.” I stepped outside, then changed my mind: “The cops can’t see my face in the dark.”
Minutes after the shooting ended, I left work to go home. They stopped me at the door — Western Psych is right across the street, police were everywhere. “Can you keep me in?” I asked. “No,” she said, and I was on the way to my car. But the parking lot was locked down too.
Last year on Shabbos, Robert Bowers killed eleven, then surrendered. We had a class at the library, hours later and miles away. Would they have cancelled though, had it been a drive-by at a playground? Anyway, Bowers goes on trial this fall.
Social Distancing Three Times
At the curb by the trash bag
he turned away as I stepped outside,
watched till I was past,
then turned back, “Caw-Caw” to his buddies
as he stared at my face,
hopped three times as I waved my hand, “Go on,”
flew into the street as I waved again, “Go on,”
then caw-caw to his flock and flew away
to a third, “Go on.”
Wilson flew to my shoulder,
to my hand, to the laptop,
then in a heartbeat
snapped off five key covers
and stared up at my face.
I clutched him in a heartbeat
kissed his head,
opened my hand and he flew away.
We were in kindergarten
when it struck Tommy and Lynn, polio.
The next day we lined up for gamma globulin
and I see it, like it was yesterday,
that syringe big as a broom handle —
they had to run me down and hold me.
The next year during the pledge,
Lynn fainted – her head bounced when it hit the floor.
Another year passed and Tommy returned,
two grades behind and clumsy. I saw him
at our 50th high school reunion. He admires
the President, “But we can’t trust that kike, Kushner,”
then stared into my face
as I waved, “Go on.”
‘Legacy of the Golden Calf” first appeared in the journal The Blue Nib in a slightly different version.
Don Krieger is a biomedical researcher whose focus is the electric activity within the brain. He is author of the hybrid collection, "Discovery," and is a 2020 Creative Nonfiction Foundation Science-as-Story Fellow. His work has appeared in American Journal of Nursing, Neurology, Seneca Review, The Asahi Shimbun, The Blue Nib, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and others, and has appeared in several anthologies in both English and Farsi.