Sharon Foulkes: ‘Corona-Sestina’



Microscopic spikes

to spear unsuspecting cell-walls:

the shiny gator-ball or Velcro graphic masks

its primitive and single-minded trick—it’s clear

we’re factory & distribution centre, testing

out its next mutation.


Announce a new mutation—

is that a meter of the screams, those spikes?

No, they’re cases come back positive from testing.

Then projecting spooky purple floaties on the walls,

the News repeats the Leaders’ Let’s be clear,

as they fumble for their masks.


Forceful action masks

the fear, welded laws await their next mutation.

Keep your news-feed on drip-feed for all is crystal clear

until it’s not. Then join the stampede for home: new spikes

trigger lock-outs and lock-downs, erecting walls

for which the only key is testing.


So join the queue for testing,

try to hear the mumbling through the masks;

then hide away, unclean, within your isolated walls.

Amuse yourself by learning Greek for naming the mutations,

but be grateful that at worst it’s only boredom spikes,

and after 14 days you’re “clear”.


Once, a singing voice was “clear”,

and schooldays used to culminate in testing.

The fastest runners made their footing sure with spikes.

Charming dancers had a ball, partying in masks,

science-fiction thrilled with tales of mutation.

Mostly mountaineers “climbed the walls”.


But now, a labyrinth with walls

of rules divides us. In abundance of caution, it’s clear

we’ve flattened the curve of life, with strange mutations

of community and kinship, rites of passage—testing

who we thought we were. Read the eyes above the masks:

they’re watchful for another spike.


Quickly, raise the walls, increase the testing.

Stand clear of everyone and grab your masks, for

here comes a new mutation—beware the spike!

                                                            Sharon Foulkes

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