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  • Writer's pictureafricmcglinchey

let's say reflection

Beauty will save the world

— Dostoyevsky


Outwardly, this spring was like any other

We know we are the hazard.

Haven't the dead stars foretold it?

And yet, before any of it,

there was this;

and still,

there is this...

It doesn’t do to rush to conclusions, you know

Now, as then,

we walk carelessly

through the dune,

the warm hill

holding its hair


…that bitter sense of freedom

which comes of total deprivation

Let's say possible,

lets say


to sunrise and sunset

…attics and cellars that had not been disinfected

by the official sanitary service

Let's say we’re gulls,

swooping our spyglass

over the debris

This happened, for instance, when they fell

to making plans

implying that the plague had ended

All the Ryanair passengers

opting for uncovered smiles

Have a nice day

We number our loves

and the deaths,

and our days

…like a flood bursting the dykes, the turbulent onrush

in his wrists and temples of the fever latent

in his blood for several days past

And feverish dreams

blend into the white noise

of waves

Each of us has the plague within him;

no one, no one on earth, is free from it

Time drops over the landscape

over the object of our lives

like an immaculate shroud

Only at night did he venture forth

to make some small purchases,

and on leaving the shop he would roam furtively

the darker, less-frequented streets

Wariness is a window pane

between face-

covered pedestrians

…a cruel leisure,

exile without redress…

In other zones,

mountains are burning

a weekend of floods

one widowed hand

holding the hand of the dead

And we remember


for most of us,


is simply short dashes

between the dots

of love

It could only be

the record of what had had to be done

Frictionless days


in the tank, all brack

Bones in the dark

bleating in the singing air


It can lie dormant for years and years

in furniture and linen-chests…bides its time

in bedrooms, cellars, trunks

and bookshelves…

Everywhere, elements of us,

the sea blue as an eye,

God's way

of breaking our hearts

Afric McGlinchey

The italicised fragments are from The Plague by Albert Camus.

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