17 March from VIRUS 2020

Liberal senator Andrew Bragg the third politician to have Covid-19; NSW announces $2.3bn stimulus package; all cricket cancelled. Guardian

‘This is a pandemic. I thought it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.’ Trump

Does anyone know what it actually feels
like to be mortal? Not a reconstruction
floating in the imagination.
I have a temperature but no cough,
a different virus is playing with me.

I use a break in the rain to find the river
running away, silvered eddies revolving
like a fairground ride cycling out to sea.

I take a photograph to catch hint of blue,
Little Terns trace beautiful arabesques,
exuberant manoeuvres as they hunt in front
of me, diving too quick for the camera.

Does anyone know what it feels like
for skin to dissolve the boundary?

A cloud of Little Corellas inflame the panorama
as the sun steps out lifting them to radiance.
and settle on the riverbank casuarinas –

. . .  angels  . . .

Three years ago I wrote a poem
‘The trajectory of falling angels’
about my uncle a priest, a good man
my mother misses terribly still.

The first stanza goes:

I’ve just heard news you haven’t heard yet.
You’re an open and shut case, stitched back up,
there was nothing they could do. You had to cough
up black blood before anyone took you seriously,
and now it’s too serious – the awful news congeals.

I can’t comprehend the length of three years,
so death certainly doesn’t.

I suddenly remember I have a guardian angel,
ignored, forgotten for fifty years.

Walter Benjamin’s ‘angel of history’ is a warning: ‘His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet.’[1] Where we see a series of events good and bad, the angel sees the violence and death so often hidden, and sees catastrophe, an ongoing cycle of destruction. We might agree if we think of how the natural world has been looted.

Does anyone know what it feels
like for life to radically redistribute?

The corellas hand-pick the woody fruits
held in one claw. They pick out
the discrete seeds, keeping an eye on me.
Intelligent, playful, mating for life
that’s them not me, littering the footpath
with broken chunks of leftover tree.

Bruised sky nudges the cliff top, rain
leans this way, digesting the ocean’s breath.

Wyn was born here of Irish parents. We usually party today, the processions have all been cancelled. We make do with Clannad and shots of Poitín.

 

[1] Walter Benjamin’s, ‘On the Concept of History’ (1940), famous for competing interpretations.