Tupelo honey slathers our hands. Gummy,

crumb-stuck to remnants of a quarantined breakfast,

we slot our plates in the sink and wash up, drying

our hands on blue surgical towels repurposed

from my hospital. This morning I’ll work without

PPE: I open the first personal statement while you

collect your math homework, three No. 2 pencils,

and half a pink rubber eraser. My brain flits from wanting

to make a difference during this pandemic to subtraction

in the thousands while people needlessly die then back

to your miscalculations and melodramatic anger,

self-condemnation, and your furious erasing of the gains

researchers have made in this strange time to subtraction,

smaller numbers at first, ones and tens before hundreds

and thousands, yet every life mattered. Your fourth grade

mind lacks the nuance of these applicants. You are

yet unable to hold the ambiguity of life, the limits

in vivo of complex division and the remainders of

an imperfect science. The world outside this kitchen

wrestles with what divides us, with mistakes, with

starting anew. As you finish the worksheet, I turn

from these polished essays to you, your struggle

with fundamentals among crumbs and crumpled

sheets of paper in your fist: another day together in this.