Michael H. Brill, a Ph.D. in physics, has been a poet and color scientist in the Route 1 corridor for more than 25 years. For the past seven of those years he has been the director of research at Datacolor in Lawrenceville. Mostly he sits at the same kitchen table each day, having actually come to prefer working from home. You may remember his poem “Exorcism,” which appeared in the Summer Fiction Issue in 2002.

Let us go, then, you and I
When vague contemplation leaks out to the sky
From our brains whose every memory is a fable.

Let us lose ourselves in half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights remembering that song
Or fragments from some tedious argument
by insidious intent
Leading us to the consequence of some unasked question.
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
I’m too gone to be explizit.

For seventeen months or so
In the room the women come and go
Spaced too far to see Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
For the Covid mist that slides along the street.
Rubbing its back along the window panes
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face you’ll send by Zoom to others that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create
So CNN can cover it till late.
And CDC can change and long debate.
Time for you and time for me
And time for a hundred indecisions.
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions that a health czar can reverse.

But I have known them all already, known them all,
Have known the mornings, evenings, afternoons.
I have spent my mealtimes washing coffee spoons.
I know the voices coming from a dying fall
That say the victim’s fate’s the Covid room.
So how should I presume?

And would it have been worth while,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
If one savant should say:
“That is not it at all.
That is not what I meant, at all.”

No, I am no Prince Hamlet, nor attendant,
Nor partisan of populists who start a scene or two
Nor populist himself, full of rising sentence
At times almost ridiculous.
almost, at times, the Fool.

And yet
for seventeen months or so
In the room the women come and go
Spaced too far to see Michelangelo.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear these stupid masks till they grow mold.
Shall I sit on my behind? Do I dare my cell-phone reach?
I shall wear these once-white sneakers and climb upon a beech.
I have heard cicadas singing each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them crawling treeward in great waves
Dragging their white bodies from the waves blown back
When the great whirring blows the billions of them, white and black.
We have lingered snapshot-seventeens of years
(to forget the paltry seventeen of months)
By dreams of tree-girls wreathed in red and brown
Till all the ‘tween time floods in and we drown.