The word is that springtime arrives late this week,
yet here on the Maine coast we have little to show for it.
There are, here and there, green shoots thrusting through
the rock hard crust of four months of deep frost,
buds are forming out there at the long naked tips
of dark branches. But the awakening tingle is absent.
That familiar ray of hope and bright anticipation
that has touched over eighty such promising seasons
has been shadowed, eclipsed in this leap of a year
by a portent, a grim tocsin that resounds in the ear
like the clattering rattle, clanging bell of a leper,
the rumbling wheels of a laden plague cart –
“Bring out your dead!”
Corona, the word echoes and re-echoes
through these days. Corona, ancient Latin for a crown –
and “uneasy lies the head…” all heads that wear it.
Recalls us, if we hearken, to another jagged headpiece
pressed brutal down across the broken brow of one
who mended lepers, bore away the festerings
and plagues that cursed our mortal race and –
in this very season – wrought a healing and a cure
that may yet bring final close to every isolation,
tear down the narrow walls of quarantine,
and seat us, newly welcomed, round
a common table where fresh bread is broken,
rich new wine is generously poured.