After The Virus

Meg Sattler

The magpies warbled to tell us come out
it’s gone, you can do it now. But they’d been singing
all along, so how should we know

The distance was there still so we stopped at its edges
Who would move first, she pulled at the thread on her grey jumper
as it was winter now

Her Blundstone broke the boundary, we laughed because
nothing happened and she asked what I thought we should do
whether we should hug

I heard the neighbour on the phone say
three o’clock is fine, darl
I’ll see you then, okay, okay bye now

& our breath filled the distance and it didn’t seem thick
It was hard to imagine it carrying nothing
but us

The hug was brittle and halting and more like a polite embrace
with a distant elderly relative at a family party
than the ones I’d tried to push out of my head during all the video calls

We didn’t hold it long and when it was over we both stepped back
and imagined our hands
But then, it was only the first one.

Meg Sattler is a writer and foreign aid specialist, often in Europe but currently isolating in the Australian bush. Her writing has been published in various journals and media and she was recently an NYC Midnight finalist. Find her outdoors, or on Twitter @megsattler.