Thrice and once, ’tis time, ’tis time by Peg Duthie

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

Twitter: @zirconium
Instagram: @zrpeg

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.


2 responses to “Thrice and once, ’tis time, ’tis time by Peg Duthie”

  1. heyannis Avatar

    When the world looks bleak, poet Parneshia Jones asks, ‘What Would Gwendolyn Brooks Do?’ then reminds us to ‘Hold On everybody./Hold On because the poets are still alive—and writing.’

    We are among the ones holding up the sky right now.
    Thank you for this poem.

    1. Peg Duthie (@Zirconium) Avatar

      Thank you , heyannis. WWGBD is a good ask. (“One Wants a Teller in a Time Like This” has been a touchstone poem for me for decades.)

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