from "Life On Mars: A Renga in Time of Corona" — Gary Duehr
Updated: Aug 24, 2021
Spring / One
The house still asleep. On a pillow, her black hair
Tangled as seaweed.
How will you know when others
Rise to shadow the sidewalk?
Last flakes, slight shadows,
Streak past the kitchen window
To wipe out the sky.
March has swept the streets, but for
This face mask: smudged, torn blossom.
On a U.S. map, The pale pink smudges swell up.
The fever aches, spikes.
You forget to sleep. Sleep stalls.
How to witness from afar?
What's there to witness: The sun's last rays burn a hole
In the ocean's swell.
Along the harbor, joggers— Spaced out as beads—lug their Labs.
Space-time swells, balloons.
Sun-bleached streets, their emptiness,
Sting the eyes: no one.
As a 19th-century Tintype reveals transient ghosts.
We are ghosts, transients,
Overwhelmed by memory.
We are refugees.
In his drive, a guy unloads
12-packs from his Range Rover.
How can we unload These remnants? Along the Charles,
The headlights' bright beads,
The orange flares of skyscrapers
Doubling in the dark current.
Our days have doubled:
Before/After, Then and Now.
Out on Plum Island,
A string of hikers heads out
Into the bright emptiness.
Here's the Great Empty:
Terminals, hotel lobbies,
Train stations, plazas.
Under ashen skies, this rain. Down Boylston, a fierce wind whips.
A lifetime ago, Scraps of paper, police tape—
Boylston's utter hush.
The whole city holds its breath.
Forsythias spark, explode.
[reprinted with permission from https://www.garyduehr.com/poetry]