Times Square

by Rachel Mallalieu

TImes Square is crazy today.
The sky is like glass, 
but only a few people stumble through the
frames on the the live cam.
A masked woman pushes her stroller
and weaves a wide berth around strangers.
No Iron Men pose for pictures;
no street performers razz bystanders
and gather cash.
We were there last February
and played the part of tourists.
We measured our hands
against Shaq’s print and posed
with Justin Bieber at Madame Tussaud’s.
We pulled lever after lever of M&Ms—
mixing mint and peanut butter candies in our bags.
Devoured them on the street while we
elbowed our way through through crowds.
At dinnertime, we squeezed into the
back corner of a Ramen house—
six huddled around a table for four.

Nothing felt final.

I can’t stop thinking about the orca who carried
her dead calf for over 1000 miles.
As ribbons of the baby’s flesh peeled away,
the whale continued to push her toward the life
she was supposed to have.

A few nights ago, my dead grandfather
visited me in a dream. He told me I could
hug him one more time. He patted my back
and murmured It’s dandy while I clutched him.
He left me and I woke up
with tears soaking my hair.

I never learned how to say good bye.
I’m still dragging the remains of
the way things used to be.
They felt light in March when we measured
time in two week intervals.
I hardly noticed them when
hummingbirds courted the lilies in July.

Now summer’s birdsong is displaced by the
whine of crickets and days compress.
My youngest son calls from school and sobs.
He forgot his cloth mask,
and the school’s paper one
scratches his face.
His teacher worries he
is not coping well.

Not long ago, the orca birthed
another calf and scientists feared
she looked malnourished.
But just last week, she was
seen swimming vigorously
alongside her mother.

Rachel Mallalieu is an emergency medicine physician and mother of five. She writes poetry in her spare time. Her work has been featured in Blood and Thunder, Haunted Waters Press, Pulse, Ricochet Journal, Love’s Executive Order, Nelle and Rattle. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

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