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Love in the Time of Corona

Raise the yellow flag that marks disease.
This lonely ship will not soon come to rest
in port of comforting communion, or cease

to sail. We berth on isolation’s breast
and pray for peace, though at a frightening cost
we’d have been wiser not to pay. The rest

you know. Too many years like waves have tossed
us to and fro to break now with the lie:
“ ’Tis only ‘til we’re finally across

this yawning chasm, this darkening divide
that makes us a society of strangers,
closeted ‘til viruses subside….”

And then? Shall we then brave the dangers
that drift malevolent, like random microbes
or evil humors, insults, sudden angers,

in the daily current? ‘Twill not be so.
This boat’s no recent shelter. Here’s the tragedy:
we booked our passage on it long ago.

Social distance is the commended remedy
for illnesses that take their mortal toll.
But social distance is also the malady
that keeps the body well but kills the soul.

PAUL HOOKER is an associate dean at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary where, among other things, he teaches Presbyterian polity.

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