HOT ZONE CONFESSIONS
‘Thomas and Lowell made themselves the metaphor of their poems’
I am myself the quarantine.
The garden spreads children
In summer clothes like sores
On a lip. The world quivers,
All arrows locked and loaded
To overflow. I don’t quite explode.
Writing has never been bomb squad
To the great squatting missiles below
Our skins; you don’t avoid
Volcanic eruption with lava postcards.
Words hurl microbial aerosol
Across the lawn to sicken, invade.
I’m only paper, metaphor, inky myth.
What’s made isn’t mine or shrapnel to own,
Contains pandemics in its sly mists.
Controlled explosions like punking steam?
All dreams are engines to the minefield
Mind we try to civilly distance from, or collide in.
We’ve died in rhetorical verse too often to see
The trees burst from it like shells out of
Burial mounds; all’s fecundity, even dross,
Drivel, moss, or fungal rot. All personal works
Surround me, yet extend, like vines on branches
Furl in forests to the furthermost interior animals.
Go out, stay in, be free to cower or to hide; release.
Impersonated by creation make a ruptured fortress
Of thy heart. Cauterise the world-wound’s founding
Art. Sun extends its allegorical medicine to kill
Viral demons on our burnt lawns. Families intersect,
Breaking stricter laws like magicians will taboos.
No decision today will lift the tension in the busy groves;
Cool hands sterilised, we’ve handed authority over to science
To judge on stony grounds. The hottest zone is inside ourselves,
With stocked salt, rice, ordinance unexplored on canny shelves.
The poem is the panther in the shade waiting for the gazelle.
She tenses before acting, like all powers, in fateful pause.
25 April, London, England