You know I said I wasn’t going to write about this, Jeez–Susana H. Case
Really? The train left some weeks ago but nobody noticed at first.
It moved first through an animal market in Wuhan, then the province
and beyond, throughout China, then to the semi-autonomous district
of Hong Kong, and to Korea; jumped aboard a plane to Italy, now
I don’t know where it is not, so no harm done that you too have
written again about the virus. It is the biggest story since stories
were invented unless you lived on the planet during the Spanish Flu.
But there are very few left who remember that pandemic now.
The human family prospered afterwards, fighting a huge world war,
and many smaller national wars, and made love with abandon,
and we are now six billion strong, so Malthusians among us say,
this is a necessary culling even if we flatten all the curves. There
will be dead until the vaccine is spread over the planet. Meanwhile
the train is arriving at all stations and often at the same time,
a perfect storm. We have the phrases, if not yet the vaccine. Write
my friend. Capture memories before they molder in the casket
or get burnt to cinders. The poems will survive. We all read
Wilfred Owen now, his Anthem for Doomed Youth. We are writing
our own anthems and some of us will be around still to read them
aloud at a hundred thousand memorial services. I am sorry for
the gloom. I am aware of precious blood, the need to test, to record,
to get all the ya yas out, including within the family, to make
the necessary overtures, make peace, prepare the plot,
the Collected Poems, the idea of rebirth, survival in song.
Indran Amirthanayagam (www.indranmx.com) writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has published seventeen poetry collections thus far, including The Migrant States (www.hangingloose.com), Coconuts on Mars (www.paperwall.in), En busca de posada (Editorial Apogeo, Lima, 2019) and Paolo 9 (Manofalsa, Lima, 2019). The Elephants of Reckoning (Hanging Loose Press) won the Paterson Prize. Uncivil War (Tsar/Mawenzi House) tells the history of the Sri Lankan Civil War. The Splintered Face: Tsunami Poems (Hanging Loose Press) was written in the wake of the Asian Tsunami of 2004. Other books include Il n’est de solitude que l’île lointaine (Legs Editions), and Ventana Azul (El Tapiz del Unicornio). He directs Poetry at the Port in Silver Spring. He is on the Board of Directors of DC-ALT, an association of literary translators. He writes for the newspaper Haiti en Marche. Amirthanayagam has received fellowships from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, The US/Mexico Fund for Culture and the Macdowell Colony.
Art by Jenn Zed.