by Margaret Ruckert

Let me take you to February 2020.
A local shopping centre.
There’s something different.
Not the noise level.
Not the crowds.
It’s subtle … all these faces
behind masks, simply more
masks than normal.
Uneasy, I leave.
Intuition was right.
But what is wrong?
FIRST WEEKS     I can’t get away from the world
NEWS     the mass of cases     MESS of numbers
China this     Singapore that     figures in MASKS
shielded eyes     wrapped angst     against the UNSEEN
EXPERTS deliver a prognosis     worse than the worst
their stance stoic to serene     busy GRAPHS contain us
mathematics has it covered     we’re taught by voices
who can prove their point     one-way conversations
DOCTORS talking tech     the economy bleeds people
my home is TRIAGE central     stacked with BODIES
we can but watch     switch on     switch on DEATH
I’m one click away     from TRAGEDY next-door
this virus has an audience     then the rested rebel
HANDS up who wants freedom     like a novel particle
to SPREAD     in my FACE     protests are SOCIAL
there’s immunity in numbers     DISTANCING is anti
the great mantra of COVID-19     being home and alone
means LONELY for too many     while introverts sigh
we close our lives for others     bow to the CURVE
skies see a future     cities cool     our PLANET calms

Poet biography:
Margaret Owen Ruckert B Sc M Ed gained third place in the Society of Women Writers 2019 National Writing Competition – Poetry, having won in 2007.  Her book musefood won the 2012 IP Poetry Book of the Year. Her tanka appear in international journals. Following a science and education career, she now facilitates the Hurstville Discovery Writers.

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