There were places I meant go this year:
Shiloh, Reelfoot Lake, Shackleford Banks;
A beach house near Hilton Head;
The Carolina highlands, Judculla Rock,
The Seychelles and Madagascar in the fall.
I had itineraries. I had bookings. I was busy. I’m running out of time.
My reservations were not of the medical kind,
Until the middle of March, the last week of winter,
When my agendas vanished into unknowing.
My calendar stopped, flights cancelled, plans disappeared.
No matter. I’m still here.
The roads and skies went quiet.
The wound in the ozone layer healed.
The canals of Venice cleared.
The smog-curtained Himalayas reappeared.
In snowy Yellowstone, the grizzlies woke up this spring
In a wilderness clear of tourists, for the first time in their lives.
Nature gained a little against the pestilence of us.
Her breath less ragged in brief repose.
“It may not last,” warned the ancient trees,
“This contagious species could adapt and return,
Infectious, legion, clever—but easily provoked to mutual slaughter.
That flaw in them may offer hope for you.”
Hiding from the invisible killer, three months in,
You and I have begun to look suspicious.
Our hair has reached the dreaded earflap stage.
At first, we looked like mild caricatures,
Then aged versions of our wild young selves,
And now, more like the assassin in No Country For Old Men.
But we’re not tossing the quarter here.
This virus could be anywhere, lingering in the air,
Riding on a post box flap, coming for us
On the smooth green pepper from the store.
Hand sanitizer does for holy water anymore.
I anoint myself with it as I flee the brash unmasked.
My house is quiet, miles from any town.
I write my first poem in years while eating cherries.
A charm of goldfinches gilds my garden every day.
Today, I Zoomed a yoga class,
Walked the dogs through green fields, cooked a risotto.
Even in the pandemic, not much has changed for me.
Outside my fence, the wide world is on fire.
It is always Armageddon somewhere.
The end of one world or another
Is always coming, and something new spinning into place.
I wonder: what will the new order be this time, and who will make it?
I am lucky to have come this far.
I straighten my back, make my bed, sketch a goldfinch, pull weeds,
Light candles, repair small things, and wait for time to end and begin anew.
It’s what I can do.
You have captured this silent change agent. Well done…