Coronavirus poem 3: Virus

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The first bars I recognized —
fever and sweats, the thorn-caged skull.
Then a desperate animal burrowed into my chest,
whose breathing had always been sickle-smooth through grass.

Lights on, I could register this as datum
for slipshod mortality, entered in a faux spreadsheet
if not into bed in the cacophonous hospital off Lexington.

Many were being turned away in their homemade masks
as if they wore no emblem of extremity maybe a forehead marked by clay
or were instead transparently flaunting their prized secrets
and so at last to recede submissively into dust.

I could register it as a kind of untouchability
when a mosquito bites me and dies.
The authenticity of fever: my Sunday revelation. Phone calls
commiserate in a variety of keys.

Also the twin bruises inside my knees
as if the clenching of willpower were absolute to the bone.

It's that time when the body is most confiding, most indoors
and discrete, its membranes swelling to a tympanic throb,
needing a certain humidity to linger and cool.

Body will be one day's statistic,
belonging to other people for an hour, pouting with surprised cerise lips.
The rest will prove the loveliest of expositions.

Alone, I discover this breathing music
that is called pattern, tracing it through the steam
peeling paint from the raddled bathroom wall.
The little animal nuzzling my ribs,
its hungry sigh a diminished chord.