A Poem For an Epidemic

I walked the dogs today, and that is not unusual.
We march daily through the empty suburban streets of our neighborhood
past drawn curtains, and neat “low maintenance” landscaping.
And see only a few retirees, who have held out as the prices rose
and the world changed. They are my dogs’ friends.
The children have no time in their busy schedules
for sidewalk games or ruffling the ears of neighborhood dogs.
But a virus landed just miles away, filling the beds of our hospital
with the sick, and the dying; and the neighborhood has come alive.
Families wandering down the streets in the sharp spring air,
parents looking a little lost, children boiling around their feet like squirrels
the youngest bouncing along behind the family dog who seems
the happiest creature in the world.
Look, I say, the daffodils are blooming!
We keep our distance, smiling at each other, nodding like the sunlit flowers.
Mostly we wander, in our quietude.
Marveling at a Sunday afternoon with nowhere to go,
and nothing to rush home for.
The concerned faces on our screens at home predict doom, how, they ask
can our Economy survive this? And I think
that anything which cannot survive sunlight rambles on a Sunday afternoon
and neighborhoods where children play, and adults sit and watch the trees bloom
was perhaps never our friend in the first place. Was perhaps all along
the slave master; and not a benevolent one (they never were).
The plantations too had sunlit rambles, for a few.
Those few for whom It works would have us believe that It has always been,
as fundamental and unchanging as gravity or thermo dynamics
but the secret in the daffodil, and the smiling dog,
is that we built it.
Our very own Frankenstein’s Monster, but we forgot to include a heart.
So dear ones, if after a long slow ramble on a Sunday afternoon we come home
to find the pieces of our Economy all in bits on our bedroom floor like a transistor radio,
this 80s child would like you to know: we don’t have to put it back together
the same way it was.

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