(April 2020)

Quiet days, quiet nights
a quiet so profound
it might be read as peace
but for hushed talk in the rooms
of shut houses and the few
masked figures seen from a distance
gliding down emptied streets.

It’s Spring: bird calls flute
through new poplar and oak leaves
as they did through the pungent
pine forests of Poland
when families were marched to the death pits
as they did through black stumps
of shell-smashed terrain by the Somme

(all the haunted refrains
of our shared lethal story)
as they flute now through lanes
blocked by long white refrigerated
mortuary trucks.

Our jonquils have risen;
they flaunt their bright flares
to a soft morning breeze
in masses of white and yellow.
Shrubs limber with yearning;
grass crabs new holds on paved lots.

The season recycles, implacably
joyous: only its watchers have changed.

Like beak-masked physicians
we draw our cloaks closer,
search dully for tokens –
the cough, the chill, the case rate
still growing – that body
the face of disease. Mocking

crowned microbes
restructure all lives.

Our tulips burst, purple and crimson.
A terrible silence arrives.