Duologue with the Pandemic

                                after Xavier Villaurrutia

[first day ]

No one home.

In the sad smoke of late
illness, the shuttered house
closed in on itself.

[first night]

when alone in a dead sky
forgotten stars shine
the silence of silence so vast
that suddenly we wish it would speak

when from a mouth that’s not there
a soundless cry erupts
throws light in our face
and goes out, leaving us blind and deaf

we dare not
ask out loud “who lives”


[next day]
I drove to the shore.

Waves broke and the day
slow as sand.

A single osprey
traced the relentless rise
and decline of sky.

                                                            I hesitate to answer
                                                            the mute question with a cry
                                                            for fear of discovering I don’t exist
                                                            because my voice might not be alive
                                                            just a memory in the throat

If only
I could hold you here, as the sea holds
enduring the burn of the wind.

David Green:
With the advent of the pandemic, the experience of dissolution or loss of a relationship, took on a new meaning, as folks began not to return home from the hospital. Throughout the community people worked and related at a distance – distance became absence, absence disappearance, until gone and not returning. In the first days, I – but I soon realized it was we – learned from the news that intimacy could be lethal. Our first sense of transient loss, missing being able to hold or be held, gradually became darker and more permanent. The duologue here reflects a sense of disconnection from ourselves, a new estrangement from self particularly during periods of solitary silence and worsening news. While spring and summer in nature offer beauty and seasonal constancy, that very familiarity highlights how much has changed, as with a deepened sense of loss we begin to relearn the world.

Image: “Man stands in the ocean” by Ben Schumin, licensed under CC 2.0.

David Green
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