p
o
e
m
s

What is touch? A child
in an airport hugs grandpa’s
legs. The grownups smile.

Braiding my daughter’s
hair, drawing the strands along
my palms, smelling them,

that’s all in the past.
But my husband’s whole body
is in the present.

And holding my mom’s
hands, singing you are my sun-
shine, her favorite

song, while she died, how
grateful I am, that moment
years back, is present.

What a privilege
to lay hands on those coming
into our world, and

those taking their leave
or those who have made children
with us—privilege

unavailable
if it is covid taking
your beloved ones.

Then there is nothing
left to smooth over except
your own empty hands.

Alicia Ostriker is the author of sixteen volumes of poetry, most recently Waiting for the Light.

You Might Also Enjoy

Jemima Spits

Jabari Asim

Fool had ten thousand acres but needed my ass to make it complete. He rubbed me like a good luck charm and I poisoned his pancakes.

poems

Nashville Drip Season

Shane Book

He removed himself with his hands, an effort not unnoticed.
People threw shells, congotronic drumming looped
from. . .

poems

Further Reading

Heads Up: We recently updated our privacy policy to clarify how and why we collect personal data. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand this policy.