Seasonal Affliction                                                                 by Laura Lee Washburn

Icons speak numbers to me:  
1 unread.  One thousand seventy-five  
not filed correctly.  Kayla has changed  
two files.  Antjea changed “poems  
for workshop.”  Chris popped in  
on Microsoft teams.  Terry sends  
a polite text thanking you for video-  
conferencing on her birthday.  2020.
 
Icons came as saints or to saints,  
splinters in the palm.  Fishes  
walking through red mud.  Cats  
dragging rats by their tails.  100  
cats in the backyard.  Island cats,  
un-predatored except by man.  Saint  
Whomever stretched and torn from limb.
  
If the natural object is always  
the adequate symbol, how do I tell you  
of this time, how we spend it hopping  
from screen icon or screen to screen?  
How can you, who I hope never  
lives in this frenetic online, get  
the emotional weight, the mental  
strain?  Or if you are living it now,  
let me say narcissus
  
with orange-rimmed cup, wild  
white and purple violets in the grass  
we already need to cut out behind  
the garage where the wild strawberry  
is leafing.  Lilacs, those Lincoln bushes,  
darkening toward flower.  So much clover  
underfoot as the new heavier Spring  
rains delight the green trefoil.  Every  
day, I look for sun. I see signs in green.  
The narcissus with orange-rimmed corona,  
wild white and purple violets in the grass  
of my own yard, the only place we travel.
  
On the screen some shape or letter below  
speaks 5.  Above and to the right the red 1.  
I think this season will never really end.  

Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the Editor-in-Chief of this website.  She’s the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.  

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