Pandemic Poems - APRIL 2020
Ode to Gum Grove
Our beloved walking place is closed. We mourn as though it held all of spring beyond its padlocked fence: Wild radish growing tall – almost the height of a man by now, like the golden mustard that glows in the oil fields. The coastal sunflowers too, sway along the newly-untrod paths, as the coreopsis with its lemon-yellow hearts. And just for a few more weeks, the disks of miner’s lettuce sprout in the shadows, safe this year from my salad. The hawks, the rabbits, the rats that feed the owls, all free from our invasion. Now coyotes can roam there in daylight, and the owlets’ parents can raise their young without our gawking eyes. That carpet of nasturtiums – they must be flowering now in bright reds and yellows; they’re doing fine without us. This place is used to disease and death, yet every spring it bares its wild beauty and strides forth boldly as we must do, albeit carefully, into the heat and dust of summer.
The freeways of our city are free at last, the streets of my suburb now wide and carless. Walkers smile at each other, cross the street with a hollered Hello to show it’s nothing personal, shrug to say We’re in this together. Two weeks ago I walked through airports, electric with fear and grateful for the well-stocked restrooms. I observed the elderly, some in masks, and wondered Will he be alive three months from now? On each flight, I had entire rows to myself. For two weeks I’ve observed each headache, each allergy-scrape in my throat, and wondered: Is this how it begins? When I smile at a stranger I ask the heavens: When this is over, which of us will still be here to tell the tale?
for fellow swimmers, beached by pool closures due to COVID-19
in clear water, prism ribbons rippling on a flat white bottom in the calm green waters of the bay where the mind wanders in an endless lap in a pool whose chlorine smell stings while snow dances down dark windows on a chilly day when rain pocks the surface tattooing my arms as they reach wet air over kelp columns rising through coastal swells, garibaldi feathering among the amber leaves in water roiled by wind where I become a fish sheltered in the pond’s calm sway I want to pull water past me again, thread myself –weightless–through the water’s unseen eye.
©2020 Tamara Madison
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