And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise!
Noise! Noise! Noise! The Whos would start
singing! They’d sing! And they’d sing! And they’d SING!
From balcony and rooftop, from sidewalks and cars—
bicycle and dinner bells, pot against pan, spoon against glass,
clapping and whistles at the end of the day, horns and cheering
at the cusp of dark. This morning you send me a picture
from work—blue mask behind plastic shield, your eyes
sparkle the way they always do, a wink at the camera
before getting back to work. Meal trays for war vets,
bedpans to wash, armrests to sanitize, wheelchairs to scrub
until they shine. Now we stand an arm’s length apart.
I have no fear of virus, you say. I fought in Benghazi.
It was a bomb. Twenty-three surgeries—feet, hand, head
—coma for forty days. See, you say, raising a hand
no longer there. You whistle and your notes fly above pot,
pan and glass. Your neighbour, the drag queen in love with you,
comes out on her balcony, covers her ears, pink bathrobe
falls opens with a smile. The hotel across the parking lot
has no lights on—hasn’t seen a guest for weeks. But its windows
dance with reflection. I’m sure I see a couple rolling in the flat-out
sheets of dark. April means lilacs. April sometimes means snow
on lilies and daffodil. I love sunset. I love the desert and my home
here and my home far away. I love cops, you say, looking down
at one on the street. Naked except their uniforms.
How do you know if he is good or bad? I ask.
Good or bad doesn’t matter; bad is better, you laugh.
So this is the sound of one hand clapping. This is the music
of now. Noise! Noise! Noise! Shift change, gown and mask.
Jim Nason is the author of six volumes of poetry and three novels. He has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Prize in both the fiction and poetry categories. His poetry book Rooster, Dog, Crow was shortlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’s 2019 Raymond Souster Award, and his poems have been included in anthologies across Canada, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008, 2010 and 2014.