Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like droplets lightly strewn upon a table;
Let us go, past certain half-deserted streets,
To the muttering retreats
Of darkened homes with delivered Zinfandels,

Forgoing restaurants with clientele:
With children home, their tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What’s the limit?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the aisles the women come and go
Talking of the lines at Costco.

The springtime air that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The springtime leaves that rub their shadows on the window-panes,
Taunted us straight into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the schoolwork that remains
Let fall upon its back the mess that falls from children;
I slipped on my robe, its lining cheap,
And seeing that it was a soft April night,
Wandered once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the lonely bistro down the street,
For you’re trying not to support the chains;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a Zoom-filtered face to meet the faces that you see;
There will be time to brunch and e-date,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That chiropract sciatia into place;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred misdirected politicians,
Before the opportunity to all agree.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of the lines at Costco

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and avoid the air
Without mask procured through means unfair—
(They will say: “How his posts are growing thin”)
My morning certainty undone by evening, assuaged by gin
My smugness now turning modest, assertive as an actor’s grin—
(They will say: “But how his diatribes are thin!”)
Do I dare
Turn on the cableverse?
In a minute there is time
For exhibitions and derisions which our leaders will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured my work breaks with streaming tunes;
I know the voices rising, then a fall
Beneath the squabble from a farther room.
        So how should I presume?

And I have known the stats already, known them all—
The stats that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, scanning for the spin,
When I am pinning crowdsourced worry to my wall,
Then how should I begin
To protect all the health hacks of my days and ways?
        And how should I presume?

And I have known the hands already, known them all—
Hands that are naked and soft and bare
(But across a table, a giant scare!)
Is it sanitizer which you press
That makes me so digress?
Hands that emerge suspect from a bathroom, or a stall.
        And should I then presume?
        And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have walked at a distance of six feet
And darted for the avocados ripe
To painter’s tape on floor graphs, to plexiglass windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged laws
Scrambling behind the curve of this disease.

And the afternoon, the evening, stretches painfully!
Smoothed by long curfews,
Asleep… tired… or food in fingers,
Stretched on the couch, alone or not, TV.
Should I, after tea and my devices
Speculate the coming apex of this crisis?
But though I have washed with passion, washed and cleaned,
Though I have seen my hands (grown slightly dry) again preparing dinner,
I am no Fauci — and this no small matter;
I have eyed the dwindling bottled liquor,
And I have seen the country’s leaders examining the ticker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the paper products, the socially-distant streets,
Among the work-at-home attempts by you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To question this new lifestyle,
To have confronted the cableverse, after all
To force it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am an American, always well-fed,
Missing past Easters — lord, what a ball!
If one, settling a pillow by her head
        Should say: “That is not important at all;
        Not important, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After my commuting memories of city streets,
After the subway, the trains, the elevators groaning between floors—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
Now my past life, in movies shown, their patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow, quite appalled,
And turning toward the window, should say:
        “That is not important at all;
        Not important, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am Horatio, one that will do
To forewarn my friend, wipe a surface or two,
Tsk tsk the prince; no doubt, they’d close his school,
Deferential, unlike Hamlet (loosed),
Hygenic, cautious, and fastidious;
Avoiding shared goblets of fermented juice;
At times, indeed, almost conspicuous—
Almost, at times, uncool.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall pass my birthday in this way holed.

Shall I brush my hair at all? Do I dare to eat the sweets?
I shall wear those flannel jammies, because — well, each to each.
I have heard the children singing — no, a screech.

I hope to god they won’t screech at me.

I have seen them nuzzled in their sleep
Curling the white sheets, hair pushed back
Rounded shoulders, mouth gone slack.
We have lingered in the chambers of our rooms
Circling them without a sound.
Till more loved ones undistance, and are found.