Here is the second ‘episode’ in my occasional series of Quarantine Quatrains. In the first I opened out the apparent prospect of real leisure and comparatively unmeasured time, which was how I thought the quarantine might develop, and how it seemed to start. Of course I soon discovered, like most of us, that it was potentially as busy as ever though in a more fragmented, haphazard, but nevertheless demanding way. Especially as our organic and nuanced encounters with one another in real life, in real time and place, are usurped by a flat onscreen exchange. In these quatrains I muse on the the ambivalence of our zoom-life, on the genuine sense of relief and connection it brings and yet, at the very same time, the way it emphasises and underlines our loss. It teases us with absence and yet it keeps connection and hope alive.
Some days you are diverted by a call
The soft computer chime that summons all
To show a face to faces that we meet
Mirages, empty mirrors on the wall.
Alas that all the friends we ever knew
Whose lives were fragrant and whose touch was true
Can only meet us on some little screen
Then zoom away with scarcely an adieu.
We share with them the little that we know
These galleries of ghosts set in a row
They flicker on the screen of life awhile
But some have left the meeting long ago.
We used to stroll together on the green
Who now divide the squares upon the screen,
The faces of our friends, so far apart
Tease us with tenderness that might have been
Some day we’ll break the bread, we’ll pour the wine
And meet and kiss and feast beneath the vine,
Till then we’ll sweeten solitude with verse
And yearn through pain, and watch each day decline.
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