Pandemic Poems - APRIL 2020
Lynda Scott Araya
Bio Note: Along with my husband, I co-won and manage a beautiful historic bed and breakfast in rural New Zealand. My background is in education but I have stepped back from that following the death of my son. I have forthcoming poems in The Pangolin Review and The Blue Nib as well as a short story in Wild Words.
Brought in on the waves of travelers Coming and going In the great waka of the air The raging pandemic Shook Aoteraoa. It exposed our faults— Our inability to prepare Our collective anxiety Which ran like jagged buckled lines Outside supermarkets As we jostled to line our kete With toilet paper that we would never need. But as the country paused We settled to wait As people by a still pool Who, having laid down hinaki Wait for better moments. The country hunkered down We tended our maara Pulled fresh kumara Bottled feijoa Stood at dawn with Fences ANZAC Day ready. Nurtured by Papatuanuku We breathed slowly In and out And, despite it all, Found and rejoiced In a new peace. Notes: A kete is a woven Maori flax basket. A hinaki is a woven flax eel trap. A maara is a vegetable garden. Papatuanuku is Earth Mother. ANZAC Day is when New Zealand and Australia remember those who have fought or who serve in the armed forces.
He snaps off the television with Its dire predictions if we do not heed the warnings: Stay home. Save Lives. Unite. No essential travel Stay in your bubble. Stumps down his path. Corpulent Reddened face Thick-necked and bullish, He is inflated with hot air The foetid stuffiness of a sick room. His street is empty, People inside Obeying the rules. Lockdown loaf their new friend. Sough dough starter, Popped slow yeasty bubbles While outside A new raised garden takes shape And, over fences Safely distant, Neighbours talk of brassicas, feijoas Of kittens lost and found. He mocks it all The Prime Minister Calmly confident The straight-talking microbiologist, Pink-haired With her many graphs and statistics Who measures a world And weighs up threats. So many precautions and restrictions That he brushes off As though dandruff, or dirt on his shoes. Such inconvenient scaremongering Impinging on his rights. Across town, In his office Squalid With yesterday’s jam lying sticky on unwashed benches He feeds his goldfish. Fat sausage fingers Drop small brown fish flakes Like sloughed skin Like yesterday’s news. His Piggy bloodshot eyes Watch the small ripples form. Radiating outwards. The goldfish swims in his own glass bubble. He too cares little for rules and statistics. About the brevity of a goldfish’s memory. Just three seconds, it was said. Measured. Calculated. The man stands to leave To pass again through deadened streets Where time stands still All given up For a virus to run its course. At his temple A vein, or was it an artery? Suddenly throbs As his blood bubbles. His heart strains Convulses and jerks Out of rhythm Out of time. He grabs his jersey With one meaty fist Grapples for air For a final chance To go back To follow the rules. But falls forward Dead His heart has gone. Inside his aquarium bubble The goldfish stops Stares Flicks his tail in a final ironic salute. So long! He says. And thanks for all the fish.
©2020 Lynda Scott Araya
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