Cheryl A. Rice
The world is a lot smaller than I suspected.
After twelve hours in the Philly airport,
I knew the place from end to end like the back of my hand.
There is nowhere these days where our modern plague hasn’t reached—
Feejee, birthplace of the famous merman tribe,
even has a few tired lungs to account for,
days of South Seas bliss on pause.
And the quarantine we read about in the novels of Dickens,
Victorian bedclothes hosting battles in the land of counterpane,
gentle Mother in her mobcap bringing beef tea and milk punch
is nothing like our daily restrictions—
most healthy, some working from home, computers
like our bodies adapting readily to work or play.
Movies stream on the brook of electric vaudeville
we invite each night onto our TV stages,
become our only option, theatres shuttered,
homey Zoom sing-alongs standing in for ensemble productions.
And with the relative silence, school buses dead in their lot,
birds believe they’ve reclaimed the neighborhood,
chant their sensual litany louder, faster, over and over.
Ambulances, fire sirens seem more frequent,
but it’s just unpolluted air carrying their
tragic notices without distraction.
I resent recording impressions of these days,
knowing how brisk competition will be--
I have my private vision of Earth as a ragged ball,
no ballast, falling from its ancient rotation,
gravity suddenly a factor, into the black so
oceans can’t be sorted from shadows.
I feel the pain of a hundred years from now,
when these few months become a footnote,
when we remove our masks to reveal again
our naked selves, untrimmed, unclean,
ready for nothing.
Cheryl A. Rice’s poems have appeared in Home Planet News, Rye Whiskey Review, Up The River, and Baltimore Review, among others. Her most recent book is Love’s Compass (Kung Fu Treachery Press). Her blog is at: http://flyingmonkeyprods.blogspot.com/. Rice lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.