The Distance Between Us. A poem by Constant Laval Williams

My brother is getting married
in the midst of a plague. His bachelor party

with its cowboy hats and surgical masks,
its whiskey sanitizing a row of esophagi.

And I haven’t been touched by another
human being in weeks, and it’s insane

to think about loving in a time like this—
my own partner on another

continent, triggering a yawn in me
through a metal square in my palm

that I periodically wipe down
with Lysol. That I can only open

with the touch of a finger,
the recognition of my face.

And we once laughed
that I got her sick

over the phone. And now
we don’t talk much anymore.

Borders and minds closed, and opened again
to usher in an odd sort of purgatory.

The distance between us, half a world,
plus the CDC recommended six feet.

The distance between us, two people
on opposite sides of a bus bench.

And in Thailand hundreds of monkeys
are fighting over single bananas,

starved from lack of attention
from visiting tourists’ lunch pails.

In Los Angeles I rush and screech
towards my phone at your call, fighting

away rumpled sheets and empty bottles
of Purell. Your voice, your name, sung

from your balcony to mine. Your touch, all touch,
elusive and strange—we Facetime two friends

in a dark room, plead with them to kiss
our glass faces together again.


Constant L. Williams is a poet based out of Los Angeles, California. For more information please visit the website.

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