A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Imagine someone with nothing left to lose as a virus
armed with a gun and desperate to spread its bullets.
Picture the virus sneaking past the patrols, the red-lined
real estate limits, climbing down off the racks on pickup
truck windows, out from locked cases and straight off of
gun store countertops into the hands of the uninoculated.
Imagine it creeping unseen into cul-de-sacs and cafes,
sweeping through Pilate classes, schools, offices, concerts,
churches—but we have, haven’t we? Haven’t we seen
these outbreaks before and done nothing, decided that
allowing the infected to walk freely among us is a small
cost, that restricting a virus’s liberty restricts us all?
Eschewing protection against the virus walking up on us
during lunch, aiming at the head, the chest, the gut, they’ll
say we caught one doing what we weren’t supposed to be
doing. We didn’t keep our distance, lock up, close off,
shut down. They’ll say we didn’t prepare. That we left
ourselves vulnerable for the violation of our bodies,
that the bullets, those viral carriers of destruction and death,
had our names on them. The experts will say we will all carry
it eventually, this pestilence, fomented by our own toxic
proximity, left unchecked by politicians bent on preserving
themselves. Some will say if we measure it, we can stop it.
If we track the victims, we can isolate the next ones before
they are affected. But we will always choose freedom over
safety, ideals over others, lethal profit over compassion.
Imagine each shot body exploding into a thousand pieces
of shrapnel before it falls, spraying everyone nearby
with tiny shards of what it takes to make the world
listen. We would hear the spread of it coming for us
street by street. We could listen as it approaches.
Copyright 2020 Matt Hohner