A VIRUS KNOWS NO MERCY

A VIRUS KNOWS NO MERCY

1

As a clean wind sweeps through
on these initial days of spring and contagion
and the sun is out and shining into everywhere you look
It is quiet and you would not know
that our planet was collapsing around us
that men and women were becoming statistics
and taking their final leave one from the other
one after the other
often alone as it happens.
Those that remain are afraid to make contact
with anyone or anything
in the near world
this world pushing in too close
anyone or anything that could be ‘dirty’
tainted with these latest organisms
born in the excretions of bats
as myths or science say
as if from some evil brew complete with curse
and multiplying day and night
as is their nature and role in the grand scheme
of biology and weeding out
An unassuming pathogen traveling about while looking for
innocent hosts                      victims to overwhelm
to show no mercy     to slay           to steal from this world.
So here we are now
in a defensive crouch
shutting in and locking down
tight as a bug in a rug
if you’ll pardon the expression
Looking out the window on a world
suddenly madder and
in even more turmoil than yesterday
the days running all together
but more like crawling
one over the other
we are finding things to do and say
and maybe extending a hand to others
in even more dire straits
trying to assuage the dread and melancholy                      to pass the time
so as not to weep
at least not anymore                               or as much
(We can only hope)
and to distract the part of the brain
given to fearing the worst.

2
As a clean wind sweeps through
and everywhere you look is quiet
and as it was before all of this
but now people fret and grow weary and lonely
dwelling on what is invisible
and silent
while efficiently lethal
and how to cope and wondering at every turn
what is prudent   what is exaggeration
and am I as invulnerable as I imagine
Everyone warned not to go to work
not to go to play   not to touch objects or surfaces
or the skin of others or even your own
not to deal with that itch on the only face you have
or even breathe while in the shadow of fellow homo sapiens
who are also out and about
with that fixed gaze of the stir crazy
most of them trying to be cautious
to keep their distance
far more conscious now of each little thing they do
and aware of the epic battle awaiting
the antibodies in our bloodstreams.

 

3
It is a time of viral panic
about this unforeseen and hidden germ
that will knock you down
lay you out
kill you very dead if the stars don’t cross just right
or other elements beyond our control precisely mesh
And such a harsh way to go by all accounts
attacking the very mechanisms that you take for granted
that usually work like clockwork
that keep you alive and kicking
dealing with your typical days and weeks
and duties or whatever amuses and thrills
relegated now to watching time flow by
like molasses on a cold morning
but nowhere near as sweet.
We are grateful for life itself, however slow.

4
Taking a walk to get out
of the sanctuary
that each day more resembles a cell
Each of us concerned about meeting basic human needs
seeking provisions as the pioneers called them
navigating the simple protocols of the local supermarket
while keeping our distance from other hunters and gatherers
masked up like surgeons or bandits
gloves on            doing all they can to leave no DNA or prints
or pick any up
seeking bread and rice and tasty snacks
disinfectant and sanitizer
crossword puzzles and gossip magazines
but mainly those last few rolls of toilet paper
who would have thought, becoming more precious than gold
We are all meandering down these one-way aisles with the ancient goal
of latching onto what we need
of satisfying impulses
of staying alive
of keeping clean
and digging up a spark of hope that this too shall pass
and a new day will dawn
and those we love
wherever they are
will slip through this unscathed.

5
Quickly making our way back home
on the lookout still
for other weapons against this dark scourge
something tangible to swing at what is wreaking havoc
on our present and future
our bottom line and peace of mind
our yearning for the caress of a loved one
speaking of a human touch
skin on hands is raw from 20-second bursts of washing
one after the other while singing songs to mark the time
and hand wringing
about all of this/
cleaning extremities obsessively as per edict
and just to be safe
sensing the virus is somehow sticking there
on skin    in lungs
no matter our diligence
waiting to do more harm.

6
As a clean wind sweeps through
and everywhere you look is quiet
Here from this refuge looking out my window on the world
in my father’s rocking chair
from back on porches of way before
wondering wherever could I go now
where an impulsive joy ride could lead me
what joy is out there still
what joy is in here                       inside this asylum
inside the confines of my head
trying to find joy amidst a wide world of sudden anguish and loss.
Feeling mucho amor for the heroes and the fallen
and today is the day we cry for you
and tomorrow too
and however more it takes
they’re calling it a war now        which can drag on
and other euphemisms are coined
to help us comprehend and endure
with fevers out there going rampant
way too many degrees adding up and doing damage
coughs shredding the lungs
jangling the nerves of everyone who encounters them
Taking stock of how I feel         from every angle
pondering how I am one more hermit in the world
oddly content at times in this shelter
out of the wind and rain
digging through books and other pleasures
another tea to calm as antidote to the jagged blade
that is the soaring death count right there on the screen
I am going down the list of all the mental and sentimental challenges
wondering what more will come
how long this is to last
what others it takes from those among us
what neighbors we would see around again and which would be no more
what kin
what strangers just doing what they do
beginning to sense how this isolation
will eventually turn cold
and shine like a knife.

7
Light in the head
but heavy in the heart and soul
weighed down too with a pervasive sense of
doom and can’t help but sense the serious changes
just around the corner for us all
the everyday from barely a month ago
becoming something else
with a whole new set of rules
like learning to walk again
or even dance
we will awkwardly move through the days
TV blaring out facts and we ponder
how could numbers and math be so scary?
these terrifying accounts and predictions
we’re all checking our temperature
while anxiety rises everywhere
As the hours turn dark
my only response is to sigh            whisper an earnest prayer
in every direction
and remember our only child
and tightly embrace my dear wife here
keeping my only real treasure close.

 

March-April 2020

 

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