The Time by Tzivia Gover

Tzivia Gover is the author of The Mindful Way to a Good Night’s Sleep, among other books. Her writing has appeared in dozens of anthologies and periodicals from the Florence Poetry Society’s Silkworm to the New York Times. She is a member of Straw Dog Writers Guild and lives in Northampton, Mass.

The Time

Why am I keeping count as if I were 
a teenager who missed her period
or a prisoner? Why do we mark our time 
here on earth? Birthdays, anniversaries?
Two weeks exactly since the declaration
of emergency. Is it wrong 
to use a pandemic as an opportunity 
to try and get my life right?
Why did the Hebrews count 
their days in the desert
in sheaves of wheat?
We’re counting the seconds it takes to scrub our hands 
safe. The number of episodes in the Netflix series 
we watch from the idling couch. The death counts
from negligence, calculated 
violence. Let me count
the ways. Who will I be 
(or not be) when this is over?
What is the number of things 
you can’t count
Anymore. My mother 
would count to three. Three more 
rinses till my hair was clean beneath 
the faucet-spray in the kitchen sink.
The number of steps around the block.
Will it be over? Strokes of the brush. 
Inches till my hair hits my shoulders. 
Again. I believe 
it is day 39 since we shut down.
How many calories in this handful of chips? 
I’ll count to ten. All ye all ye. All 
come free. 44. 67. Days. What 
is an acceptable number
of fears? Of decibels 
of fury? We counted 
the cars that passed our house 
while we were waiting. Eight minutes. 
46 seconds. I’m losing count. The grace 
of graying hairs. Stacked pine 
boxes. One golden coffin.
80-something days, I think it’s been.
It feels. Endless. What 
is the time? What 
will be the time 
it takes?