How Long it Takes

In answer to the most repeated 
question nowadays concerning 
the world's return to normal, 

Thoreau might have said what he did say: 
Not that the story need be long, but 
it will take a long while to make it 

shorter. Schools that reopen send
students back home when contagion 
spikes again. When the sun shines 

between days of rain, public beaches and
patio dining beckon. Five weeks ago, the man 
who cuts the grass in our neighborhood asked

if we knew anyone who'd come down with
the virus or died from it. This weekend, 
he said his wife will only buy 

groceries online now. It's hard 
to visit friends or even family. 
You stand on the porch steps, 

then venture into the foyer. Soon
you're on the couch with a glass
of something fizzy in hand. 

We'll buy stamps and cards to send
to others far away. Someone says 
If we die, we'll die together. 

Cicero mused, If I had more time,
I would have written a shorter letter.
Now the sun is setting and the river

has never looked more lovely. Gold, 
indigo, and the distant punctuation 
of wading birds at its edges: black-

crowned night heron, glossy ibis
and common gull; egret always
stirring up the muddy ink pot.  

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