WALKING IN THE DAYS OF THE VIRUS #6

WALKING IN THE DAYS OF THE VIRUS
(#6 Indoors)

Four hours to catch my breath
before abseiling out of bed
Heard the cheers and applause 
halfway through
much louder this time
but couldn’t join in
not even from under the quilt
I clapped in my head
and gained a little more strength

Spent most of the time watching
the planet or satellite
on a downward curve
from blind to blind
With squinted eyes
the bright dot twinkled 
like a biblical star

What language will I die in
Does it really matter
Don’t know if I have the lungs
for this crowned Virus
but my antimonarchist heart 
is tougher than it might think

Surely it’s all in the head
Need a walk to set my mind straight
but not in the street
not like this
If anyone spots me
they might shut me in a red and black capsule
and whisk me away

The longest distance you can walk
in a more or less straight 
diagonal line
is 27 steps
from the empty bedside cabinet
to the piles of books, papers, tissues 
in the corner of the living-study

Wood, tiles, carpet 
Carpet, tiles, wood
Much better than going in circles
My head has spun enough
Neck turns slightly to the left
of its own accord as I walk

Here ħanini’s erasure poem 
of the moon holding a map
in full colour

Here the windowsill
with piles of magazines
still waiting for a quiet day
Carto
New Internationalist
Malta Map Society Journal
World Literature Today
If this is a form of product placement
so be it

Blinds are down
Fed up of spotting planes
coming in to land
over the cemetery
dropping their mini-bombs 
of 0.13 microns

Here the wardrobe 
I only ever open
to put on a tie
Virus, you won’t be getting in there
any time soon

Into the entrance hall
Passing by the mirror
I’d rather not see my face now
not even in the corner of the eye
I could cover the top half with paper
or with the map of Luxembourg
Somewhere on the bookshelves
there’s the Arabic map of Palestine 
from the Alrowwad centre in Ramallah
Or maybe in a pile in the corner 
I’ll find a printout of Steve’s artistic map
of the Qrendi coast

U ajma Twan
you’ve danced with your reflection
several times this week
without as much as a thought
Pretended to know how to sing 
and play bass guitar
Your reflection didn’t flinch once
You can trust him

Into the living-study
Here the shelves of books
more or less by genre and language
and passports to nowhere

My dream of a poetry library
near the southern cliffs of Malta
open to readers and cats
has been postponed for too long
Fuck you Virus
If I don’t build it
someone else will

Here the mapmaker’s desk
a bargain found by David 
Grazzi ras 
A tortoise lamp in the corner
a gift from Silvia
reminding me to slow down

The world map on the wall
earth-tone
Winkel tripel projection
by National Geographic
when it was still non-profit
Now they’re doing coffee pod documentaries
with one of the most evil multinationals
on the planet

Some countries redder than others
just like the maps online
in today’s news
My forsaken fish-shaped island
hiding behind a circled star
thankfully doing better than here
so far

Dry cherry petals on the desk
only three pink snowflakes left
Ottu can’t stop smiling
despite his forlorn eyes
808 km to La Grande-Motte 
the closest point 
on the Mediterranean coast
7 hours 47 minutes
if the borders were open
Grazzi ħabib għażiż
you could easily escape to the river
swim your way back to Wied iż-Żurrieq 
and yet here you are
watching over me

Resting on the lamp switch
a blue and white postcard
MONDPHASEN 2020
New moon in three days’ time
Scribbled on the back
last January
one night of chest pains
just in case
instructions if I’m found dead

Sent an e-mail yesterday
to a notary in Żejtun
enquiring about the possibility
of drawing up a will online
Jiddispjacini she said
din il-possibilita ma tezistix
testatur fizikament presenti
presenza ta zewg xhieda
jiddikjaraw illi t-testament inqara fil-presenza taghhom
u jkunu xhieda tal-firma 
u l-identita tat-testatur

Grazzi tal-informazzjoni
Fhimt
Paċenzja
Mela nistenna sa wara l-lockdown
Grazzi, tislijiet u kuraġġ

In circumstances like these
how will the people under ventilators
declare their will
in the presence of a notary
and two witnesses
of their identity and signature

Hello Percy Bysshe Shelley
How’s life in posterity
Here it’s March 2020
and we’re totally fucked

Here goes:

11.1.20 Bonnevoie
F’każ li ninstab mejjet —
flusi lil Gloria u ’l ħuti
il-kotba u drittijiet lil Inizjamed 
il-maħfra lil missieri
l-irmied ta’ ġismi l-Wied
l-iskrivanija lil David Sch.
qalbi lil Silvia
GRAZZI
Antoine

Ottu has eight tentacles
he could sign with each one
Tortoise, you know how to write?
A squiggle will do

Here the low table
a mess of tote bags, envelopes, 
tissue packs,
the books and papers I moved
before disinfecting the desk
as a means of survival

About-turn
Neck still slightly to the left
Here another windowsill
Chewing gum
empty hand gel
Dana’s rosemary stick
I might burn later
Zuzka’s little Buddha
(hands occupied)
and the government flyer 

PLEASE STAY AT HOME.
#BLEIFTDOHEEM
RESTEZ À LA MAISON.

Thank you two-tailed red lion
with your three-pointed crown

Here the long blue couch
I only ever use
to pack my little suitcase
Followed Rafa’s advice
suitcase ready 
in case I need to rush out
The bare essentials
Boxers and socks
Three t-shirts:
The octopus from Australia
Neruda’s fish and astrolabe
U IVA MHUX XORTA
Four books 
to hopefully read in recovery:
Memorial de Isla Negra
Hope in the Dark
Homesick, a memoir
by a fellow translator
Madwar sagħtejn u nofs 
’il bogħod mill-ġenna

Back into the hall
Here the dejected intercom
Here the front door
with its metal handle
Keys out of the lock
just in case
Here shoes, scarves, coats
I refuse to forgo
especially nowadays

My feet follow my eyes
In reality
this is no straight line
but an elongated figure of eight
much like an analemma
the equinox right here
by the bedroom door

Here on the wall
another gift from Silvia
Bus 8 to Bow Church
about 80 metres down
from where we first met in the flesh

Here the metal frame of the bed
Jesus Christ
The Virus could survive on it
for 72 hours
It’s certainly bordering my dreams now
I’ll wipe it a little later

Here the empty half of the bed
and empty cabinet
It’s like the butterfly is missing a wing,
ħanini said 

Back to the poem of the moon
that is always full
Qalbi 
if we survive the spring 
the salt on your skin
will be tastier than ever

---

#timezones #walking #covid19

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