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"Upended Hourglass in Pandemic Days" and "But do you really need bananas?" - Kim Fahner

Upended Hourglass in Pandemic Days

A great many days have come to pass,

and the kitchen calendar has forgotten to turn

its own pages, its head throbbing. We have not been

honest about how to mark the days with anchors,

so they bump into one another like buoys against a boat.

Today was half-erased, the morning full of yoga and laundry,

but the afternoon shredded itself into pieces by loss. And tomorrow

has plans that might be too ambitious to fulfil, so it will

likely be disappointed, its shoulders slumping and eating leftovers

above the sink. That sounds like despair wrapped up in a bow—

the kind you make curly with scissors held open, listening to

the zip of metal along a once flat ribbon. But we’ll have a checklist, and

maybe that will mean tomorrow will be better than today. I think

I’d like to write a letter to the past—months ago now—and tell it to

shape the fuck up for once and forever, send me a post-dated cheque

that pays it forward with a promise of a vaccine, dandelion wine, and

marshmallows roasted badly over a backyard firepit in July. ''

But do you really need bananas?

Half a day, after an early morning hike

under shadow of smokestack and

with geese passing overhead at dawn,

and half a day of thinking, should I

or should I not? Go for bananas?

Seven weeks ago, would have moved

the car without thought, not have had

to put on a fabric mask, or bring wipes

to disinfect hands after getting back in.

Now, a lifetime later, and the world has

turned upside down—shaken baby

without a mother to save it.

Masked employee at front door,

telling me to stand at the pylon.

Now we are numbers, not names.

Then, disinfected carts, pairs of gloves inside

Ziploc bags. Inside, half-dreams of an old world:

the Gala apples, the mandarin oranges,

the mushrooms that sleep blindly in their bins;

the cilantro in bunches, under the parsley and dill;

the women who don’t wear masks, eyebrows frowning at me,

pushing carts into the back of my heels, all while

I try to gather sweet potatoes, after the bananas.

Imagine that, being driven to drive

after two weeks with idle car, in search of

fresh bananas—not frozen. Real.

And then I think, masked green woman, the day

after Beltane, “My God. The world is a rabbit hole,

and bananas still exist, and that woman doesn’t care

about masks, or me, or whether or not we manage to

continue.” She pushes her cart into my heels,

frowns at my mask, rolls her eyes thinking I can’t see.

These hidden stories we carry, these days we mark

when hours are lost—so slippery—and I only

hold onto the mandarin oranges more closely,

as if they will save me from madness:

scent of citrus in rain.

Kim Fahner lives, writes, and teaches in Sudbury, Ontario. She was Greater Sudbury's fourth poet laureate (2016-18) and was the first woman appointed to the role. Her latest book of poems is These Wings (Pedlar Press, 2019). Kim is a member of the League of Canadian Poets and is the Ontario Representative for The Writers' Union of Canada. She's also a supporting member of the Playwrights' Guild of Canada. She is currently working on a new play, as well as her next book of poems. She may be reached through her author website at

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