Author's Note: I wrote "Pandemic!" way back in March 2020, while we were entering the first wave here in Italy but in the US it still looked much like a blockbuster Hollywood movie. I hope the playful tone may be understood in those terms. I thought it might be instructive to look back at some very early "first impressions" of the pandemic, given the current situation. "Promise" was written after months of lockdown, and is addressed to our daughter. With at least three vaccines on the horizon in 2021, I hope it doesn't seem hubristic to plant a small seed of hope. I am the author of the collections Unburial (Kelsay, 2019) and Still Life with City (forthcoming from Pski's Porch.)
We’ve seen this movie dozens of times before. It’s always based on a bestselling potboiler starring Jeff Goldblum and Angelina Jolie (‘90s version.) What starts with a cough ends with the end of the world, a smoke-ridden landscape, nations braced for mutual destruction. [Intermission. Popcorn. Bathroom break. Stretch your legs.] Megacities topple like Lego blocks. Kaboom! Pow! Blammo! Two ordinary schmoes like you and me (only more beautiful, muscular, ripped) take up the burden of humanity, vowing to rescue it ‒ with seconds left on the clock ‒ from some great unforeseen catastrophe. Much heavy weaponry and black trench coats. (Armani logo.) The President of the United States turns out to be a wolf in Uncle Sam’s clothing. The climax comes ‒ and here you’re thankful for Dolby Surround Sound ‒ with an apocalyptic face-off in New York City, as distressed Lady Liberty martyred by helicopter fire, takes blows unflinchingly, lifts high her lighted lamp proclaiming her clarion call to freedom just at the moment that dog the President ‒ unmasked, betrayed by his own henchmen ‒ hangs from her crown above a pool of doom. [Guitar. Fade to black. Roll credits.] Before you leave the darkness, check for the name of that actor who’s always in this film ‒ that guy! ‒ and brush the salt from your thighs. Think how hungry a good movie can make you, then praise your god this only ever happens in Hollywood.
for Melissa When all this is over I promise we’ll see flowers again, birds in the trees, promise the world will still be all it was on the day we left it.
©2021 Marc Alan Di Martino
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