Love in a Time of Corona No. 2: Reflections

Corona by Barbara Woods

A Word From the Publisher

We are delighted to be bringing you a second installment of Persimmon Tree’s Love in a Time of Corona special issues. It is evident from the warm and grateful responses we’ve received from so many of you that the first issue filled a need – and that the more issues we can bring you, the better everyone will be. We have, in consequence, determined to produce not only this second issue, which comes to you with our joy in the sense of community it is fostering, but a third as well. Why a third?

Our poetry editor Cynthia Hogue put it best:

I actually think that this is a moment for poetry, that it’s rather pouring out, being shared, that we’re writing in solitude and writing for the future, writing to help us survive psychically, and that it’s better to provide weekly solace for three weeks of the sheltering in place than two, that the poems will accompany and nourish us during this time. I was so impressed with the sheer inventive energy of the finalists, so let’s go for the three weeks, for sharing, reaching out to others, touching hearts and minds.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.

But of course, we could not have brought you even one installment, let alone three, were it not for the rich and generous contributions of so many. Especially all of our readers who have also now become our contributors. We are forever grateful to you. We are grateful, too, to Cynthia Hogue, who herself read so many of your poems, and having found joy and community in them all, was then put to the unenviable task of helping to select those we would publish. Elizabeth (EZ) Zimmer painstakingly proofread this section, as she does every word you see in Persimmon Tree.

You will find more than poetry in this section. There are also delightful works of visual art by Susan V. Mills, Barbara Woods, and Angela Rizzuti. And not one but two Easter eggs: first, a poem by Diana Livi that she not only sets to music, but plays and sings for you, and, then, a video of three poems by Cynthia Hogue that she reads for you. Enjoy!



Where or When

Day was what it always was
but the telephone lines were empty of birds

So many birds usually in alignment, then
One day it was over

From a beach or a mountaintop
Some aching vista

To which they flew in unison
Meaning    Humans

we’re not here to contribute
To your life story

We both noticed this
While walking the quiet neighborhood

It must be the birds have finally gone
You said

Without birds the telephone lines look
Barely alive

Everything circles back, I said
It seems we stood and talked like this before



Dream by Susan V. Mills




The Adirondack chair envelops me, realigns me at the center of my backyard
coronasphere. No electron micrograph, false colored sticky ball image of virus
here, where coronas stay holy. And hues are real, though I know the spectrum is
narrow, squeezed by the limits of human perception, saturated, mainly,
by human imagination.

Droplets of fog cling to the catawba tree. Haloed with an aura of resurrection green,
it breathes with respirations, deep, slow.

The next door neighbor’s daughter bands her forehead with a garland of clover.
A month ago, she showed off new molars, crowns of celestial white
erupting from rosy craters. Now she’s banned from coming over.

Sunflowers bloom by the deck, petals shoulder together.
Seeds are circled, sheltered, till the cold spell passes.

The trickster evening star appears. It doesn’t look like what it is,
gaseous particles masquerading
as collective body.

Yet I have seen, in wooded night, St. Elmo’s fire and aurora borealis.
I have seen the solar eclipse, looking, for all the world, like an opened eye,
fathomless pupil surrounded by lavender ellipsoid iris.

False colors I suppose.

I don’t know the properties of light.
But I know the red wink of my porch bound neighbor’s corona cigar
signals calm. I know blush colored rings
around a bowl shaped moon mean a luminary
holding water,
signaling promise
of cleansing rain.



Pandemonium Blues

Once upon a time, I would snuggle next to you.
Yeah, once upon a time, I’d curl up right next to you.
Till that Giant Wipe unfurled between us –
Oh, baby, what am I to do?

When I come into the house, babe, right away you wipe me down.
Oh, when I step inside the house, babe, you’re there in scrubs to hose me down.
Yeah, my keys, my bag, my hands, my face –
my skin’s chapped rosy like a clown.

We put on latex gloves
fit our masks on nice and tight
then Lysol spray the bed
so we can roll around all night.
Oh, baby, I got those pandemonium blues.
All this antiseptic love-making
sure got us missin’ a few screws.

You shout “Don’t forget the cough cloth!” every time you hear it comin’.
Oh, you toss me that damned cough cloth, ‘cause you think a cough is comin’.
Well, I’ve tried to tell you baby,
that ain’t no cough, it’s just me hummin’.

Had a healthy fear of dying – knew we both would go someday.
We had a healthy fear of dying – knew both of us would go someday.
But with Death poundin’ on the whole world’s door,
our “healthy” up and ran away.

We put on latex gloves
fit our masks on nice and tight
then Lysol spray the bed
so we can roll around all night.
Oh, baby, I got those pandemonium blues.
All this bleach that we been huffin’
sure must’ve loosened a few screws.


Click to play “Pandemonium Blues” below.



Sheltering In Place

Sheltering in my place that used to be ours
until you died suddenly five years ago.

My place, that used to be ours to remodel and restore
where I manage apartments upstairs and live on the ground floor.

You aren’t here to play gin rummy and scrabble
to bake sweet treats or go to the market
wearing masks and gloves risking our lives together.

My place, that used to be ours, is filled with music to quell
my fear, to feed my soul and where I sometimes sing or dance out my stress.

You aren’t here so I walk our dog on the deserted sidewalks alone
and fill my time with video chats with new friends on the computer
in the office that used to be yours.

My place, that used to be ours, is now lit by candles
to soften the reality of your death, my loneliness and the scourge outside the door.

You aren’t here so I walk on my treadmill
and binge watch TV picking a special movie for the
dinner hour and eat my meal alone on a TV tray in the living room.

My place, that used to be ours,
will keep me safe while I shelter
with my memories of you – and wait.



Self Portrait with Lady Macbeth

At kitchen sink (where ne’er she stood) I watch
the birds, the deer, the blooming woods, where catch
the wren her worm, the squirrel his mate, but
I – I stand here, scrubbing late, as if such
could conquer, seal my fate, secure what was
our happy, lively household and our quest
to grow old together in spite not of
each other but this uninvited guest
who would dispel the languor of our realm.
What’s to be done? Of this crown I’ll have none!
They say that soap and water clears this deed,
and so from morn to darkest night I’ll knead
sudsy fingers, this evil to transcend –
by common act achieve uncommon end.





Every Day is the Same as Every Other Day

Every day is the same as every other day
except for sunshine and rain
the boardwalk is closed
it’s too rainy to run
streets naked eerie and empty except
for “essentials” trying to keep
this wobbly world breathing
until the curve is flat   a cure is found
despite the naysayers and those
who say it’s a political ploy you know
the virus is killing people your age

As sun bring hope after rain
this pandemic gives time
when you’ve turned off the news
and poured a glass of wine
to talk with your husband
the book he just finished
the poem you wrote the cat and the dog
another night of eating at home time to ponder
what time means when you are this old
you laugh that what was so vital
can wait for many more days or may never
have to be done

When a flurry of feathers draws you to
the patio door to see a mass of wide
white wings gyrating amid the green pines
and leafless maple trees there are so many
you start to count   thirty
great egrets have come to roost they circle
again surveying the tops of the trees
then settle one by one filling out the bare limbs
thirty white pillows luminous
against the darkening sky more lovely
than sunshine and rain



Such a Time

warm sun on my hair
chill breeze on my cheeks
season of spring

this equinox
isn’t sure where to turn

trees can’t read signs and so
magnolias stretch out
handfuls of white fragrance

forsythia shouts sunshine’s today!

yellow ones/white ones poke up to see
what’s going on as
their bulbs slowly slowly
peel off winter

cherry blossoms
pink my cheeks puffed
out in smiles at their sight
tapping memory of the rare
tree on our front lawn

died one spring
of winter salt on shoveled snow

can we keep spring alive
into April May June
what will these begged-for
months wrinkle into?

instead of colorful skips along
park pathways
Gates Closed
I scratch my head
fold palms facing one another
and read
facing another birthday

trying not to count
reported death toll
moment by


A Door in Brooklyn by Angela Rizzuti



  1. Thanks, dear poets and artists, for these words and images of comfort, camaraderie and laughter in this difficult time. A special shout-out to Charlotte Mandel, my first poetry teacher/mentor and her sensitive poem “Such a Time.”

    1. Thank you so much, Charlotte. (I only wish I had read your kind comment back then when you posted it. My apologies.)

  2. I loved Claire Massey’s poem, Coronasphere. The description, “center of my backyard coronasphere” resonated. Don’t we all feel that way? The last paragraph was particularly compelling. “I don’t know the properties of light” and yet she does by use of the delightful imagery showing light has not only physical but emotional properties. Charming piece.

  3. For Cynthia Hogue – Thank you. That was very soothing – especially the very last page from which you read.

  4. Wonderful sparks providing a sense of communal reflection on these unprecedented times! I especially love that so many have noted that spring rises up regardless of the pandemic. Such beauty gives fresh hopes! I’m waiting for my dogwood tree to blossom. We still have snows in Ohio this week.

  5. Lovely poems — every one of them. I look forward to listening to the audio as well.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you. Honestly, I think I was feeling somewhat hysterical when this piece just poured out of me. Gallows humor, I guess.

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