The cruelness of last April would have delighted the T.S. Eliot of “The Waste Land.” We were in the middle of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. We knew very little about the disease except that it was spreading rapidly and was more than 10 times as deadly as the annual flu. Everyone we passed in the streets represented a threat to our lives, as mask-wearing was only getting started, but the culture war Donald Trump and other Republicans declared against mask-wearing was already hitting its stride. The economy was in a tailspin, and virtually all of us were confined to our homes.
What a difference April is this year, at least for those who practice social distancing, wear masks, and in other ways take care of themselves and their neighbors. Even wearing a mask, you can feel April’s special warmth caress your face, especially in New York City, where I live. Walking outside yesterday, fortified with both Moderna shots and my mask, I felt the special breeze that blows across Long Island and Manhattan from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a muggy zephyr that doesn’t oppress, as it might in the summer, but instead strokes our bodies in a loving manner, a breeze that promises many things: the fragrance of spring flowers, the sound of returning birds, the suddenness of spring rain. My poem about Manhattan’s April breeze called “A Bubble of Damp Tranquility,” is part of my chapbook, Cubist States of Mind/Not the Cruelest Month (Poets Haven Books, 2017). (Since the publishing house closed after its owner died, the only place to buy the chapbook is on Amazon—and from Amazon, not the publisher). I stole a few lines from “A Bubble of Deep Tranquility” for a description in the last chapter of my new novel, The Brothers Silver, which is now set to be released on June 1.
A BUBBLE OF DAMP TRANQUILITY
A muggy ocean breeze
teases with its wheezes
glides between the buildings,
reminding us the seas are near.
It fills the streets with sticky nuzzles
and the puzzle of the clouds:
will it drizzle, will it drench,
will it shroud the roads with fog
undulating emerald over
square and circle beds
of pink and yellow heads,
blinks of purple hid in clover.
Twists of conversation ride the wind—
well I mean like so anyway you know
you see no way it’s like I go—
meaningless as the chirp of birds.
Invaded by a damp tranquility,
water hangs in air,
a soothing shadow blanket
reminiscent of another April years ago,
not déjà vu, but déjà senti
A burst of sun will break it up
as if it were a bubble.
Published in Cubist States of Mind/Not the Cruelest Month (Poet’s Haven, 2017)