Poem: “Seven Minutes”

By Jane Ellen Ibur, St. Louis Poet Laureate

We’re down to seven minutes a visit,

you seemed ready to hang up.

Why are you wearing that? you asked

Austin who held the i-Pad for our visit.

He and I took turns explaining the pandemic,

no visitors to keep everyone safe. 

So far so good.  Five weeks and I’ve ventured

no farther than the front porch or the garage.

It’s me, Mom, your daughter Janie.

I know, you fake back.

You squint into the screen and I’m pretty sure

you can’t see me.  Tell Austin about horseback

riding, Mom, on your 90th.  She lights up.

I steer her to remember Camp Sylvester

and her summer horses before I appeared.

We are both at risk for this virus.  I hunker

down, refuse to leave the house, zoom

with friends and classes.  The virus doesn’t stay

in your mind but it never leaves mine.

This frightening time.  “Okay, bye,” you say

and I want more, but you’re back to Austin,

asking him why he is wearing a mask,

and the phone clicks off.