Pandemic Poems - APRIL 2020
Author's Note: This represents my most truthful expression, so far, of feelings about our post-Pandemic world. It is from The Iridescent Guest, forthcoming this year from Deerbrook Editions.
The Rat of Mayhem, or, A Tale of Two Autumns
November, 1516. One aggrieved musician lured a group of children from Hamelin to a prison in the mountains— Anna, Elena, Pavel, Jack, and Steven, Grete’s boy, with Mag, his girl. Grete heard the mountain slam behind them. God helped the children—made them small enough to crawl like larvae through the fissured wall. As Steven and his friend made their way home, Grete strewed her pantry floor with flour. The two did not live long, but a thousand others— worms at first, then little winged sacks—lived on. Hamelin, after this, would never harbor human children, only pantry moths. They did no harm. They fed and for- nicated. Grete watched them all night long. ----------------------------------- November, 2016. West of there, across the sea, as Midge was fixing tea, she swallowed a rat. Maeve her neighbor swallowed a rat while hanging undies on a rack. Maeve’s husband, Paul, sweating on his Nordic Track, swallowed a rat of his own. You and I were driving “Cuddles” to the vet. My turn to swallow a rat. Aaron read the Torah. He swallowed a rat. Helen studied Portuguese. She gulped, and tried to scream: Soccoro! but we heard no noise. Her vocal cords were gripped in fourteen claws. Seven tails thrashed from between her jaws. In all, we swallowed sixteen animals, and they were One, became a billion, carried the day, the place, the state, the land, and we, who once were separate citizens, became a single poisoned nest—a home for him, Rat of Contagion and Strangulation! Rat of Mayhem!
©2020 Sarah White
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