Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Ellen McGrath Smith: March 22, 2020

It would do to have a bit more land,
like Gertrude and Alice and Basket
spending the Occupation in Bilignon
in a seventeeth-century manor, tout
isolées du monde. Every day
a sort of day trip—to the stream,
the village market, on the terrace,
the cloth of sanity burnishing the view day or night.
As it is, we’re quarantined in cages,
rooms, apartments, city houses, ranches
in the suburbs, the further out you go
the more chance to forget, to forgo
every caution you’ve ever not taken.
The dwellers there excel
at social distancing, have been
doing it for decades, only now
they’re denied the little breaks
from its monotony that people bring.
We could treat this as retreat
if the silence weren’t so dense with
the stress always bearing down on it,
making silence and air a solid thing,
a stone pillow where our heads lie at night.


Copyright 2020 Ellen McGrath Smith

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