during the 1918 spanish flu pandemic
a friend tells me her grandparents
owned a chicago butcher shop across
from a catholic church – there were so
many parish deaths the priests couldn't
keep up with masses for the dead instead
hearses drove slowly by the church while
a priest on the walk sprinkled holy water on
each van – one by one by one – my friend
asked her granny why she and gramps survived
the flu "We had a shot of whiskey every night!"

2020 Jacqueline Jackson

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