Social Distancing

By Shirley Geok-lin Lim

The Monarchs seem not to have heard
of Covid-19, I think this April,
the few appearing in our backyard
sentient non-Sapiens in the navel
orange branches. We only seem alike,
liberated by sun. Locked down, we envy
their brief spring flirting with the garden shrike
among white blossoms posed like bridesmaids’ posies.
For us, knowledge of good and evil
weigh down, weight turning to adipose
tissue with each generation still
taller, thickening. Even the thin are obese
next to these Monarchs in their airwaves
unweighted by knowledge of extinction.
Wingspans inches smaller than when gold-black air
first flashed me, they keep social distance to stave
off heavy-bellied sentients, blessed distance that bears
both lardy lolling and variegation.

Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s Crossing the Peninsula received the British Commonwealth Poetry Prize, first for a woman and Asian. She has 10 poetry collections, recently The Irreversible Sun, Ars Poetica for the Day, and Do You Live In? Her poems are published in Hudson Review, Feminist Studies, Virginia Quarterly Review, and more; featured by Bill Moyers, Tracey K. Smith’s Slowdown, and performed in Poetry Out Loud. Also by this poet: "California Skies" and "Prayer for Coyote"