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Zoe Green: a poem

Pandemic Love Commute

I drove through death all that summer.

One time, the dawn bloomed warm as blood

in my rearview mirror as I drove west; on another,

the dusk bruised my left cheek

as I sped to the funeral of a man who was dying.

I whipped the grey ghosts of motorways:

Berlin, Ollon; Ollon, Vienna; Vienna, Berlin.

Through these endless threadbare days

I passed time doing sums in my head,

converting kilometers to miles, miles to

minutes, and the number of minutes

till our meeting to the intensity of love.

I have never been so lonely as on these drives.

The steering wheel vibrated like a wasp in a jar;

the gears gnashed their teeth; I counted my breaths,

listened to the radio in other languages until

the presenter's voice began to jump and buck

between hills. At papier-mâché service stations,

I squatted behind bushes in the dust, watched

my stream, bitter with coffee, rush downhill,

the only living thing, it seemed.

There were policemen, yes, at border posts,

but they didn't wish to talk –

and ants too scuttled in the dust.

A human mind had conceived the signs

that blared STAY HOME; but all I knew

was that behind the doors of houses glimpsed

from flyovers, people were dying;

and sure, weren't we all just particles

passing through

then hastening apart –

you and me too?

Originally from Montrose, Zoë Green lives and works in Vienna and Berlin. By day, she is a drama teacher; by night, a poet. Her poetry has featured in the London Magazine, Atrium and Ink Sweat and Tears, and is forthcoming in Poetry Salzburg Review, The Interpreter’s House and Sidhe-Press. She is currently assembling her first pamphlet.

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