Tag Archives: covid-19

Coyotes Came Out

As we disappeared
from the roads and retail plazas,
as the parks were shuttered
and the playgrounds were locked away,

coyotes came out
to run the roads looking for us.

When they did not see us
in our usual numbers, did not find
our fast food remnants, did not see
our deadly cars or hear us chatter and rage
at each other, they did not wait

but came forward, more and more,
to go in daylight where they’d rarely gone 
before dark till now. It became clear
to them and to all others
that at least temporarily,

something had shifted.
The air, the ambient sound,
the ground itself
all seemed less troubled.
Lawns and meadows
grew longer, wilder, wilder,
opened up old blooms; 
after it was over, everyone
noticed the honey 
was richer that season

even as the coyotes melted
back into the dark. 
They’d tasted
a different sweetness;

enough for now.


Abeyance

Put the world in abeyance
as singers are passing and dancers
are passing from among us;
these will be spaces
we cannot fill at once. 

Put this life we’ve known in abeyance.
How far we have yet to go is uncertain,
and with the holes in the map
left by the passage of those
who knitted lives together, our way is unclear.

Put the long view in abeyance;
measure progress now by inches
or less. Creeping forward without song,
blind to the path, each step a martyr’s 
touchstone in the pavement;

there is now, in fact and fiction,
only today. Put tomorrow
in abeyance while waiting for 
a new song, a new dance,
a new map for what’s ahead.


The Foragers

Outside the Dollar Tree
on Providence Road
which is strangely closed
at two-thirty
on a Saturday afternoon —

no sign, no explanation.

Several of us standing 
widely spaced before it,
having heard 
a rumor of a delivery

of needed things —
I’m getting a hunch
I’m afraid to share.

A newish SUV shows up
and a guy leans out 
of the passenger window:

“Is it closed? We heard
it was closed for two weeks —
someone on the staff
tested positive –“

“Shit.” 

“We heard there’s a delivery
at Walmart, they’re staggering
the times they put stuff out.”

We scatter slowly
as civilized people do,

every one of us walking
to our cars as wary of the others
as if we were all
carrying spears.


Meeting In A Time Of Contagion

We talk to each other from across streets
and through screens now, slowly becoming
acquainted with the low-touch rules; still, when I

see a long lost friend in a store, someone I thought
had moved to Florida decades before, it is natural 
and innate that we shake hands in the center aisle

and then immediately with regret we both look at the floor
and say, “we probably shouldn’t have done that,” and so
the conversation continues for the requisite few minutes

of catch up before we move on to his purchase 
and my car, though I stop in the lobby before I go
and scrub myself with wipes meant for cart handles

and door knobs, the sting of the sanitizer tearing into
the cracked skin on my hands like the fire of knowing
that acknowledging joy and friendship without thought in these days

might be fatal to one of us or to someone we love
or someone we never even meet, as if we are the wings 
of the metaphorical butterfly who destroys the entire world — 

as if we have never been
that disastrous before all this happened
simply by living our casual consumer lives.


For The Fancydancers

Within days
of the contagion’s start

something inside took over,
rolled my hands
into chafed red fists,

and started punching through 
my pale shell. 

I spend my mornings now
watching fancydancing videos:
little girls in jingle dresses,
little boys in full regalia
stomping, tall men and women
raising their arms 
against the contagion
on small and common snow-iced lawns,
on the edges of empty roads, 
in furrows left in winter land
by spring and summer plowing;
all of them elsewhere,

west of here, beyond this city
crowded still with unbelievers
shopping for safety from what
they don’t yet fully believe 
is already among them,
is no longer a rumor of plague
east and west of here,
but no, not here.

West of here
is where the people are dancing
toward healing. 

I think of my sister,
sick as sick can be now,
in her jingle dress
at eighteen.

Whatever is inside me
pokes me gently, reminds me
of smallpox blanket stories,
says: this is how we survived.

This is how we got through so much.


Wednesday Morning, March 18, 2020

Almost forgetting.
Delighting at the silence
in the street. Then: oh.

Sparrow waiting
until I finish the trash.
Settles back upon the feeder

as if nothing has changed.
Birds rioting here and
in the next yard. 

I leave the TV news off
as long as I can
but danger tugs the remote

into my hand. So much
for silence. So much for the 
delight. So much — oh.