Poetry Shelf connections: Art Nahil’s Lockdown Poems

 

Lockdown

 

When we could no longer touch

we learned to reach instead.

 

When we could no longer gather

we learned to worship the horizon.

 

When we could no longer pray

we learned to sing from rooftops.

 

When we could no longer carry

a tune we remembered how to write.

 

When we could no longer find

the words we walked toward the ocean.

 

When our legs began to falter

we marveled at the sky.

 

When we could no longer see

we tasted salt on the wind.

 

And when we could no longer

worship

 

or sing

 

or remember

 

still the memory of touch remained

and we burned.

 

 

 

 

Lockdown #15

 

I’ve never had to live with myself

at such close quarters.

 

With so few distractions.

 

At first there was novelty

and so we stayed up late

a torch held underneath our chin

 

telling ghost stories

eating popcorn

swilling beer.

 

We slept in

indulged ourselves with tinned

salmon on toast

eggs over easy.

 

You learned the glockenspiel.

I wrote poems.

 

It doesn’t matter now

who was the first       to notice dust

drifting on the window sill

bird shit on the bedroom window

neither could reach.

 

I’d forgotten I leave

the toilet seat down.

Stubble in the sink.

I claim credit for what is only

good fortune.

 

Our conversations have become terse.

There are things

we cannot un-say.

Un-hear.

 

I swear when this is over

I’m leaving you for good.

 

Art Nahil

 

Art Nahill is an Auckland physician, clinical educator, and poet. He has published both in New Zealand and is his native US. He is the author of A Long Commute Home (2014), Murmurations (2018) and is currently working on a third book-length manuscript of poems inspired by the Waiatarua Wetland Reserve near his home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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