HPN

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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 32

A Number

I open windows to shut off
a fire alarm set off by my oven
turned on after years: what
I can’t do is shut off sirens ringing
non-stop through my nap-like sleep
soon disrupted by another alarm from an
arrogant someone directed to lead
my “cohort” at work in this emergency;
several e mails sent to make sure
I know, in language I don’t understand
meant to impress and warn:
furious for allowing him

to detract me from the enormity of
what’s happing am thrown back by
hourly news alerts: rapidly changing numbers
a death toll past what my mind can grasp
flash to moments before people became
a number, every breath struggling not
to slip off this earth every breath
I take not to be included
thankful someone I wish
were here with me now
no longer is

  Linda Lerner