Lover, before the pandemic


I understood power
as the ability to excite
desire. When I passed
the socialists camped out
in the square in Mexico City
last summer I cringed
in recognition and took a picture
that I texted to my anarchist
in another country. Later
I bought silver earrings
in the market in Coyoacán.
On the Airbnb’s creaky bed
with you, I conjured
Frida and Diego’s vivid
fits of jealousy.
Do you not possess,
lover, like political systems,
a strong, articulated
discourse? You do not.
Once, not long ago,
I was a city
laid low by desire.
Now I’m an empire
of indifference,
tending the borders
of my pallid daffodils.


Eleanor Stanford is the author of three books of poems, The Imaginal Marriage, Bartram’s Garden, and The Book of Sleep. Her poems and essays have also appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, The Iowa Review, and many other journals. She was a Fulbright Fellow to Brazil, where she researched and wrote about traditional midwifery. She is also the recipient of a 2019 NEA grant in poetry. She lives in the Philadelphia area. 


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Lover, before the pandemic

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