Abecedarian for 2020
Apocalyptic years begin insidiously—your
best friend discovers she has cancer, and there’s news from
China about a mysterious, highly contagious
disease. One minute, Australia declares a state of
emergency, and you turn on the TV to see
fires raging. The next, there’s a
global pandemic, and everyone’s locked down at
home. You play cards and drink wine. It gets worse:
I can’t breathe, says George Floyd with that cop’s knee at his
jugular. Your best friend—her name was
Kim—dies. You turn 52 at a Black
Lives Matter protest. The internet jokes, Who had
Murder Hornets for May?
Not you, you’re just trying to keep track of the cancellations—
Olympics, Wimbledon, Lollapalooza, Broadway—and
pretending to cope. You teach classes online.
Quarantine follows quarantine and it’s suddenly fall.
Russia is again interfering in the presidential election;
Spotted Lantern Flies are swarming Philadelphia;
Trump claims credit for defeating Covid 19. The word
unprecedented is meta-commentary. Finally, you get the
virus, shut yourself in your bedroom watching MSNBC—
Wisconsin polls look good but Pennsylvania not so much—
experience tells you to trust nothing.
You write a poem, this poem. You hope Hurricane
Zeta will be the last disaster of 2020. It isn’t.
Anna M. Evans’ poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, American Arts Quarterly, and 32 Poems. She gained her MFA from Bennington College. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists’ Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers’ Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Rowan College at Burlington County. Her books include her latest chapbooks, The Quarantina Chronicles (Barefoot Muse Press, 2020) and The Unacknowledged Legislator (Empty Chair Press, 2019), along with Under Dark Waters: Surviving the Titanic (Able Muse Press, 2018), and her sonnet collection, Sisters & Courtesans (White Violet Press, 2014).