A starving deer is trying to nibble a tree scorched black by fire. She cannot see what was no longer is. Not a single juicy leaf, only what can’t be eaten. Flecks of ash, filling the air, covering streams and stumps and hills for miles. A grey plague smothering wild places. It’s like what’s killing us inside our bodies. The world is suffering, the world is sick, and seen or unseen, changed. Hotter, with seas lifting, animals dying. Inside, time and place seem re-arranged. But wasn’t it always so? Once, driving with my father past my dear old school, I saw no trim front lawns but weeds waist-high. In shock, my eye went up the slope. The school, no longer there. An empty space. The sky. Photo by Brian Gilmartin Charlotte Innes is the author of the chapbook, Twenty Pandemicals (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Descanso Drive, a book of poems, also from Kelsay Books. Her poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review, Tampa Review, Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review and several anthologies, including The Best American Spiritual Writing for 2006 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Beyond Baroque Books, 2015). A former journalist and teacher, she has written on books and the arts for many publications, including The Nation and the Los Angeles Times. She also tutors students in English and creative writing. Originally from England, Charlotte Innes now lives in Los Angeles. You can register here to attend a free online book launch for Twenty Pandemicals on Saturday, February 26 at 2:30 pm Eastern Time, 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time, and 7:30 p.m. UK time. Charlotte will be reading along with special guests Rick Mullin, Sarah Maclay, Wendy Klein, Ned Balbo, Gail Wronsky, Beth Ruscio, Hilda Weiss, Quincy R. Lehr, Nancy Murphy, Amanda Koenigsberg and Hari B Khalsa. The total reading time will be 90 minutes.