Thrice and once, ’tis time, ’tis time
This running out of beds was in the crystal ball
we gazed at in the spring—the numbers spelled it out—
bodies piled in freezer trucks long before the fall
and even then some knew (and said) how things would stall
along the way to safety. People acting out
crowded spring break headlines, but it seemed that fall
was far enough away that we could tame it all—
that science could persuade, that Dr. Fauci’s clout
could outpunch red belligerence, could run the ball
past the fakes and cheating, make the expert call
to zip around the screens and tanks, to carry out
moves planned not on wishfulness but the actual fall
of bodies, how they tilt and spin and bleed. Look, gall
is neither brace nor antiseptic. You can shout
until you—we—are out of air, and still the ball
and prom and coming-home will not be safe at all.
This spike won’t be the last. There’s always room for doubt
but room within the ICUs? No crystal ball
can spin beds out of straw. Will we survive the fall?
by Peg Duthie
Editor’s Note: This haunting villanelle proves once again that poetry is not dead. In fact, it is timely, and always time for the type of art that documents humanity’s truth.
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