This is how she learned to touch.

A cousin with a cold,
unsequestered,
unleashed the contagion that
flooded our lungs.

At the same time:

Calcified spikes
tunneled up from their slumber
and pushed into the open air of her mouth.

She hacked, burned, and ached.

She was weary and without hope.

When her feet touched the ground,
her heart folded in. When she was lifted, held,
slim vigor rallied if for a moment.

Her peanut butter head rested more, spindle arms hung less,
tested and gripped more.

Comfort was a vibration: the pressed and heated air
between her and us
rippled by the work of a nearby heart.

Somewhere in the buffeting of virus and grimace,
memory drew figures in the margins in thin pen.

Loosed, she took handfuls at leisure.