Fifth Floor, Assisted Living

by Debbie Collins

she’d cut her hair with the tiny bathroom scissors again

it was spiked into some crazy birdlike fluff like the ducklings 
making their way to the pond through the parking lot

she watches them from her window 
and makes clucking sounds with her tongue

where have you been, she pleaded with me

words like quarantine and isolation made her wince 
with remembering and pain

Charles passed on, she said quietly, 
not meeting my eyes

we lost four on our floor altogether she said,
studying the parking lot

put on your mask, I say, let’s get out of here – 
the sun is glorious today

finally, finally she can feel the sun on her face, 
and we’re both, just for now, 
wrapped in a daydream

Debbie Collins lives and writes in Richmond, Virginia. She has been published in Third Wednesday, antinarrative, and Flatbush Review, among others. Her first book, he says i’m fierce, was just released by Finishing Line Press. Jim Baron is the owner, with his wife Liz, of the Dallas-based Blue Mesa Grill restaurants and TNT/Tacos and Tequila. He’s been a surf bum all his life, with his late brother Bob and younger brother Dan. He spends a couple hours every day painting water colors, and happiness for him is being on the beach with Liz, Kate, Zak, Ian, and Lola, the labradoodle, who runs the show.

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