The Coronavirus: Poetry on the Odyssey
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The Coronavirus: Poetry on the Odyssey

A different perspective on the pandemic

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The Coronavirus: Poetry on the Odyssey
Photo by Mat Reding on Unsplash


If the world were a great table
And I, its poet.
How would I weave and write
Of this viral, global blight?
Let my pen describe the sight.

This world table stretches long
From sunrise to evensong
And some of those at it, feasting,
Were dying, as we had known and knew.
But that shadow, it grew.

We had simply turned our faces
And sampled the wines.
But now, so much fewer do dine.
And the virus clears the hall like
A strange game, an en-mass "Clue."

Eulogies mark tabled wood
Where old friends sat laughing.
Elderly gaffers now
Lie prostrate in satin.
The hands of mothers curl, cold,
Bereft of their children.
And lovers' cheeks bulge blue
That last week blushed smitten.
Our hall gasps for breath
And inhales death.

I watch many leave the feast
To eat alone in their rooms.
They fear to enter the hall
Where the shadow of death looms.

With no feasts to sing at
And no place to abide,
I wander outside
amongst green glory
Where trees tell stories,
not poets.

Outdoors, grows the graveyard,
The last rest of merry faces,
Who once toasted my tales.
But whose lives have since failed.

The surrounding trees speak joyfully,
And I am confused, upset.
How could they forget
The graves and the death?
The empty hall and the silent claw
Of sickness?

Their branches shiver towards a stump,
And they murmur of an axe
That came one day and cut a cross,
On which, a man long ago fought
To steal these graves of their buried loss,
If the sleepers knew the man on the cross.

They said He beat Death.
For love, He stopped Death in one toss.
The trees were sure of Death's loss.
"That man robs graves
And does so at great cost," they nodded.

I turned to go
But the oaks asked me to stay
And enjoy the spring day.
Then, I fell silent with joy.
Listening to the owls call,
I forgot the dying in the hall.

The beech woke me up
With a knock on the head
"You've had your spring nap.
Now jump out of bed!
Return to the hall," it said.

I shouted, "No, I won't do it.
I'm not a nurse
But a poet."
"Oh, but you shall.
Your voice was crafted to sing in sorrow:
As the Nightingale sings in the night -
To remind the ill of the light.

"Tell the sick of all the beauties
You've seen,
Of the birds and the trees
And the wild March leaves.
Don't let them forget the bluebird's wing.

"And make sure they know
Of the One on the cross
So they'll go with spring hopes
To their one life's slow loss.

"You're a poet for this moment.
Tell true stories.
Sing of life in the hall of death.
Weave rhymes of the Grave-Robber,
Who'll bring feasting again,"
So urged, I ran back in.

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