Elane Gutterman is a founding Board member and current Literary Committee Chair of West Windsor Arts. Her poems have appeared in the Kelsey Review, New Verse News, Paterson Literary Review and U.S. 1 Summer Fiction Issues. Her first book of poems, Tides of Expectation, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.

What We Share

My neighbors are seated with me
around a big umbrellaed table
outside the local café.

We are meeting to celebrate
a birthday as we have gathered
so many times before.

But this time it feels different,
like giddily removing the curled ribbon
and bright wrapping from a present.

More than fifteen months have passed
since we could sit together
without masks, close enough

to see the smiles of Sheelagh, a new grandma,
the wistful glances of Aru, a mother
whose daughter is moving across

the country. Swathy, Shyloo, Sheila talk
of the angst and isolation endured
by close family and friends

in Bangalore and Delhi
and the newly dead from COVID.
We have all heard calls for rich nations,

like ours, to share their bounty
of vaccinations with poor nations.
Yet who among us, I wonder,

would put off the bliss of vaccine
freedom for others?