From the Olympian mound, the pitcher-god threw us a curve,
a ball of pandememic-virus starter ringed with a spiky cornona,
designed to explode and multiply at baseball time,
sending mortals in search of sanitizer, masks, and rolls of paper,
forcing even the most social—those Italians!—to keep their distance,
and granting the wishes of all who ever said “leave me alone.”
People used to playing the game, now forced to watch at home alone,
listen to the experts explaining the urgency of flattening the curve,
of washing their hands fifty times a day and maintaining social distance,
while wondering if they too will become infected with corona
and pondering how best to manufacture their own paper–
just a question of material and method, since they have plenty of time.
Exactly what are space and time? Such questions arise when there’s time
and space to ponder them because everything’s so quiet, and we are so alone,
sheltering at home and hoarding milk, bread, and toilet paper,
hoping that survival skills are graded on a favorable curve,
thinking that for patience we each deserve a golden corona,
and how contagion travels so quickly such a distance.
Not going to work or school seems not so bad, but how to distance
yourself from your family and friends all the time?
So can it be that bad, so much worse than other viruses, this corona?
Because it turns out that hard as adulting is, alone-
ing is that much harder, with an anxious-making learning curve.
Can it really be as deadly as they tell us in the online papers?
Teachers and students distracted—must they still write, still mark those papers
in times when the apocalypse seems quite real and not too distant?
Employees and business owners trying to chart how their trajectory will curve,
what good without income is a mandate for taking down time?
Who knows how all this will end? The pitcher-god alone,
watching the ball from atop his mountain’s high corona.
So many definitions—aureole, crown, halo, ring—for this corona,
but the thing itself is far more intense than words on paper,
the way it brings people down with sickness, death, facing fear alone.
Caution is clearly required, but can human will alone enforce the distance
between our life and all the threats to its existence? Only time
will tell, one supposes, which way the spinning viral ball will curve.
All we can do is try to keep distance between ourselves and this new corona,
and if it comes our time, we won’t be saved by masks or toilet paper;
we dream we grip the bat to swing at the curve, but we wake like we die, alone.
T. Allen Culpepper