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from "Life On Mars: A Renga in Time of Corona" — Gary Duehr



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]

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