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Social Distancing

By Elise Paschen


In dreams I walk through crowds,

brushing arms, knocking elbows.

Skin to skin: hands are bare.


Crocuses congregate

in beds, along sidewalks.

Unlatching city gates,


I breathe each stranger’s breath,

as if a new-cut bloom,

unafraid of anyone.


I walk through every crowd,


not shunned by anyone.

Each scent, a new-cut bloom.

I breathe each stranger’s breath,


unlatching city gates.

In beds along sidewalks,

crocuses congregate,


skin to skin. Hands are bare –

brushing arms, knocking elbows.

I walk through every crowd.



Elise Paschen is the author of The Nightlife (named one of the top 2017 poetry books by the Chicago Review of Books), Bestiary, Infidelities (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), and Houses: Coasts. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The New Yorker and Poetry, among other anthologies and magazines.