Barbara Nickel

Illustrations by Gillian Newland (http://gilliannewland.com/)

The Mozart Girl

The Mozart Girl is here! This is a reissue by Second Story Press of Barbara’s children’s novel The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart. A new title and cover but the same story of the famous composer’s talented older sister for a new generation of young readers.

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Corona #10 (Essential)

 

I owe a debt of gratitude for this week’s poem to Chloe Kim’s Musical Offering on the Early Music Vancouver website, which includes her performance of Nicola Matteis Jr.’s “Alia Fantasia”, the photograph by Alec Jacobson, and Chloe’s eloquent words about her situation.

You’ll find the new sonnet first, followed by the entire corona-in-process.

I invite you in.

Corona #10 (Essential)

She walks ahead of me. We don’t touch yet
except this place within—my phone, her scroll
and fingerboard not skin but living, set
under her chin for life. She plays although
her audience has scattered into screens.
She plays alone. It’s night. She offers
us her home—the fire escape a ladder leans
against in chips of light—her
beside the bed. I said she walks,
walks in music, climbs each step practised
since she was three. Listen to breath, talk,
meal, the wine, the world, the window, listen
to sweat and sleep. Outside: off-kilter
boards on a frame, a hose and pail in shadow.


Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

(March 30, 2020)

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Pecking, oblivious,
the Safeway crows construct in blooming trees
what’s theirs. What’s ours? Try not to seize
the toilet paper please. One each. Whereas
this homeless guy and the queen (immaculate
in green) get less and more and more and less.
But take a look at Boris, the virus
doesn’t discriminate (it does it does).

And how much Easter chocolate should I get?
And should I fill my cart until it’s filled?
Southeast of here a potter’s field is filled
and let me out of here, I want to get
into my car, in safety watch this blessed
family conferring, twining twigs into a nest.

(April 11, 2020)

Corona #3 (Spring)

Family conferring, twining twigs into a nest;
cherry, trillium, corona bloom
while a buffoon condemns the WHO; in Zoom,
inside, outside, in danger zones, the rest
battle the king of everywhere
who won’t allow a service for the dead
and sneaks noiseless into the lungs, is dread
on surfaces but strangely isn’t tearing

us apart; we will receive their surplus
masks, we are arriving at the ends
of paragraphs and meals; that wending
of the river the evening he surprised us—
dark swath, a log until it gleamed;
a beaver dived into the running stream.

(April 18, 2020)

Corona #4 (News)

A beaver dived into the running stream
that became river, estuary, strait, a sea
that made a mist that hid a strain that came to be
the news—old news. It replicates, like rhyme,
with slight changes: a home is hit, old people
die. And then it’s him. Almost a century,
from Hamilton by way of Sicily
and then it’s him. A nurse’s phone took people

to his side. FaceTime: maybe my uncle
heard my violin. Alone he was
and wasn’t. It was him. Amid the chaos
of the news I heard the news that he
died. Turned on the news. Care home, virus.
That body on the gurney could be his.

(April 25, 2020)

Corona #5 (Until)

That body on the gurney could be his,
his body’s journey to an urn the sun
will warm until—until. Not soon
the service. Gather not, until. Selfish,
you wish a crowded ship, haircuts, a trip
across the border or those olden days
you’d have a person over. This is a phase
you tell yourself, beating the overripe
bananas into bread, shaping a poem
into the closet where you write, the lines
contained by laundry, a slight desk, aligned
by rules of close and far; windowless home.
Most are at home. Where is the unveil,
a way we can be us again until—

(May 2, 2020)

Corona #6 (Doctor)

A way we can be us again until
we can be us again depends on a curve
she worried early into flattening (her
pause; the track on her cheek for the frail,
the numbers weighing, unsleeping her,
delivered without fail, in measured tones
what can’t be measured; for even one,
in even tones, how evenly she suffers).

Suffering sales. I watch the antics
of her southern foil (unlikely foil
but still) and, equally, the circles
under her eyes, wonder if as a girl she ever picked
a dandelion globe and surged to blow it to the wind—
stopped herself, cupped it with her hand.

(May 11, 2020)

Corona #7 (Lack)

Stopped herself. Cupped it with her hand.
I mean from crying out. I mean she hid
her finger black from work. I made
that up with facts from the report but our ground
beef she picked for bones is true. And that she died
from you know what a day after officials said
her plant was safe. Condolences not said
until the news revealed the lack and the lie.

The sky above the Taj Mahal is blue.
The Louvre emptier for all the life it’s held.
Great halls are vast with music never heard.
And vast the time I haven’t spent with you.

Her husband works there too, when asked
said he felt numb (translated, speaking through a mask).

(May 17, 2020)

Corona #8 (Cover)

Said he felt numb. Translated, speaking through a mask,
her husband said he’d caught it too, and, speaking
through a mask, my husband in the parking lot pokes
a swab into a patient’s nose, and, fumbling with his mask,
his father plants the beans,
his hair white with silver, his mask handsewn, patterned with yellow chicks and pale
green fish, he stoops to sow the kale,
adjusts his mask, kneeling, leaning.

Kids on bikes but mostly quiet on our street.
Our grass, our hair is clipped, the rose climbs
almost in ordinary time,
it pricks my thumb for blooms, it’s sweet

before: ho-hum, we’re getting on a plane,
on our way to—(nothing will be the same).

(May 26, 2020)

Corona #9 (Ghost)

On our way to nothing will be the same:
Detroit, July of ’67, on the list
of the deceased, the four-year-old hit
by the National Guard after a sniper in her home.
The same as this, we watched a city burn.
She’d be about my age, we’re on a plane
(with masks, two seats between) above the same
tumult: It was my life. You didn’t learn.

On our way to nothing will be the same
is the procession of the dead. In mist
and flame they come and go, insist
they’re dead and can’t breathe; let nothing be the same.

The airport quiet as a crypt.
She walks ahead of me; we don’t touch yet.

(June 15, 2020)

Corona #10 (Essential)

She walks ahead of me. We don’t touch yet
except this place within—my phone, her scroll
and fingerboard not skin but living, set
under her chin for life. She plays although
her audience has scattered into screens.
She plays alone. It’s night. She offers
us her home—the fire escape a ladder leans
against in chips of light—her
beside the bed. I said she walks,
walks in music, climbs each step practised
since she was three. Listen to breath, talk,
meal, the wine, the world, the window, listen
to sweat and sleep. Outside: off-kilter
boards on a frame, a hose and pail in shadow.

 

 

Corona #9 (Ghost)

It’s been almost three weeks since the last sonnet. So much hard has happened, I found I needed to look back in order to look forward.

The newest sonnet is first, followed by the entire crown.

I invite you in. 

Corona #9 (Ghost)

On our way to nothing will be the same:
Detroit, July of ’67, on the list
of the deceased, the four-year-old hit
by the National Guard after a sniper in her home.
The same as this, we watched a city burn.
She’d be about my age, we’re on a plane
(with masks, two seats between) above the same
tumult: It was my life. You didn’t learn.

On our way to nothing will be the same
is the procession of the dead. In mist
and flame they come and go, insist
they’re dead and can’t breathe; let nothing be the same.

The airport quiet as a crypt.
She walks ahead of me; we don’t touch yet.


Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

(March 30, 2020)

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Pecking, oblivious,
the Safeway crows construct in blooming trees
what’s theirs. What’s ours? Try not to seize
the toilet paper please. One each. Whereas
this homeless guy and the queen (immaculate
in green) get less and more and more and less.
But take a look at Boris, the virus
doesn’t discriminate (it does it does).

And how much Easter chocolate should I get?
And should I fill my cart until it’s filled?
Southeast of here a potter’s field is filled
and let me out of here, I want to get
into my car, in safety watch this blessed
family conferring, twining twigs into a nest.

(April 11, 2020)

Corona #3 (Spring)

Family conferring, twining twigs into a nest;
cherry, trillium, corona bloom
while a buffoon condemns the WHO; in Zoom,
inside, outside, in danger zones, the rest
battle the king of everywhere
who won’t allow a service for the dead
and sneaks noiseless into the lungs, is dread
on surfaces but strangely isn’t tearing

us apart; we will receive their surplus
masks, we are arriving at the ends
of paragraphs and meals; that wending
of the river the evening he surprised us—
dark swath, a log until it gleamed;
a beaver dived into the running stream.

(April 18, 2020)

Corona #4 (News)

A beaver dived into the running stream
that became river, estuary, strait, a sea
that made a mist that hid a strain that came to be
the news—old news. It replicates, like rhyme,
with slight changes: a home is hit, old people
die. And then it’s him. Almost a century,
from Hamilton by way of Sicily
and then it’s him. A nurse’s phone took people

to his side. FaceTime: maybe my uncle
heard my violin. Alone he was
and wasn’t. It was him. Amid the chaos
of the news I heard the news that he
died. Turned on the news. Care home, virus.
That body on the gurney could be his.

(April 25, 2020)

Corona #5 (Until)

That body on the gurney could be his,
his body’s journey to an urn the sun
will warm until—until. Not soon
the service. Gather not, until. Selfish,
you wish a crowded ship, haircuts, a trip
across the border or those olden days
you’d have a person over. This is a phase
you tell yourself, beating the overripe
bananas into bread, shaping a poem
into the closet where you write, the lines
contained by laundry, a slight desk, aligned
by rules of close and far; windowless home.
Most are at home. Where is the unveil,
a way we can be us again until—

(May 2, 2020)

Corona #6 (Doctor)

A way we can be us again until
we can be us again depends on a curve
she worried early into flattening (her
pause; the track on her cheek for the frail,
the numbers weighing, unsleeping her,
delivered without fail, in measured tones
what can’t be measured; for even one,
in even tones, how evenly she suffers).

Suffering sales. I watch the antics
of her southern foil (unlikely foil
but still) and, equally, the circles
under her eyes, wonder if as a girl she ever picked
a dandelion globe and surged to blow it to the wind—
stopped herself, cupped it with her hand.

(May 11, 2020)

Corona #7 (Lack)

Stopped herself. Cupped it with her hand.
I mean from crying out. I mean she hid
her finger black from work. I made
that up with facts from the report but our ground
beef she picked for bones is true. And that she died
from you know what a day after officials said
her plant was safe. Condolences not said
until the news revealed the lack and the lie.

The sky above the Taj Mahal is blue.
The Louvre emptier for all the life it’s held.
Great halls are vast with music never heard.
And vast the time I haven’t spent with you.

Her husband works there too, when asked
said he felt numb (translated, speaking through a mask).

(May 17, 2020)

Corona #8 (Cover)

Said he felt numb. Translated, speaking through a mask,
her husband said he’d caught it too, and, speaking
through a mask, my husband in the parking lot pokes
a swab into a patient’s nose, and, fumbling with his mask,
his father plants the beans,
his hair white with silver, his mask handsewn, patterned with yellow chicks and pale
green fish, he stoops to sow the kale,
adjusts his mask, kneeling, leaning.

Kids on bikes but mostly quiet on our street.
Our grass, our hair is clipped, the rose climbs
almost in ordinary time,
it pricks my thumb for blooms, it’s sweet

before: ho-hum, we’re getting on a plane,
on our way to—(nothing will be the same).

(May 26, 2020)

Corona #9 (Ghost)

On our way to nothing will be the same:
Detroit, July of ’67, on the list
of the deceased, the four-year-old hit
by the National Guard after a sniper in her home.
The same as this, we watched a city burn.
She’d be about my age, we’re on a plane
(with masks, two seats between) above the same
tumult: It was my life. You didn’t learn.

On our way to nothing will be the same
is the procession of the dead. In mist
and flame they come and go, insist
they’re dead and can’t breathe; let nothing be the same.

The airport quiet as a crypt.
She walks ahead of me; we don’t touch yet.

Corona #8 (Cover)

Since last week’s post marked the end of the traditional seven-sonnet crown, this corona has become mutant.

Here is the latest poem first, to save you from scrolling down through all of the sonnets each week. The whole crown-in-process follows for those who wish to read it.

I invite you in. 

Corona #8 (Cover)

Said he felt numb. Translated, speaking through a mask,
her husband said he’d caught it too, and, speaking
through a mask, my husband in the parking lot pokes
a swab into a patient’s nose, and, fumbling with his mask,
his father plants the beans,
his hair white with silver, his mask handsewn, patterned with yellow chicks and pale
green fish, he stoops to sow the kale,
adjusts his mask, kneeling, leaning.

Kids on bikes but mostly quiet on our street.
Our grass, our hair is clipped, the rose climbs
almost in ordinary time,
it pricks my thumb for blooms, it’s sweet

before: ho-hum, we’re getting on a plane,
on our way to—(nothing will be the same).


Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

(March 30, 2020)

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Pecking, oblivious,
the Safeway crows construct in blooming trees
what’s theirs. What’s ours? Try not to seize
the toilet paper please. One each. Whereas
this homeless guy and the queen (immaculate
in green) get less and more and more and less.
But take a look at Boris, the virus
doesn’t discriminate (it does it does).

And how much Easter chocolate should I get?
And should I fill my cart until it’s filled?
Southeast of here a potter’s field is filled
and let me out of here, I want to get
into my car, in safety watch this blessed
family conferring, twining twigs into a nest.

(April 11, 2020)

Corona #3 (Spring)

Family conferring, twining twigs into a nest;
cherry, trillium, corona bloom
while a buffoon condemns the WHO; in Zoom,
inside, outside, in danger zones, the rest
battle the king of everywhere
who won’t allow a service for the dead
and sneaks noiseless into the lungs, is dread
on surfaces but strangely isn’t tearing

us apart; we will receive their surplus
masks, we are arriving at the ends
of paragraphs and meals; that wending
of the river the evening he surprised us—
dark swath, a log until it gleamed;
a beaver dived into the running stream.

(April 18, 2020)

Corona #4 (News)

A beaver dived into the running stream
that became river, estuary, strait, a sea
that made a mist that hid a strain that came to be
the news—old news. It replicates, like rhyme,
with slight changes: a home is hit, old people
die. And then it’s him. Almost a century,
from Hamilton by way of Sicily
and then it’s him. A nurse’s phone took people

to his side. FaceTime: maybe my uncle
heard my violin. Alone he was
and wasn’t. It was him. Amid the chaos
of the news I heard the news that he
died. Turned on the news. Care home, virus.
That body on the gurney could be his.

(April 25, 2020)

Corona #5 (Until)

That body on the gurney could be his,
his body’s journey to an urn the sun
will warm until—until. Not soon
the service. Gather not, until. Selfish,
you wish a crowded ship, haircuts, a trip
across the border or those olden days
you’d have a person over. This is a phase
you tell yourself, beating the overripe
bananas into bread, shaping a poem
into the closet where you write, the lines
contained by laundry, a slight desk, aligned
by rules of close and far; windowless home.
Most are at home. Where is the unveil,
a way we can be us again until—

(May 2, 2020)

Corona #6 (Doctor)

A way we can be us again until
we can be us again depends on a curve
she worried early into flattening (her
pause; the track on her cheek for the frail,
the numbers weighing, unsleeping her,
delivered without fail, in measured tones
what can’t be measured; for even one,
in even tones, how evenly she suffers).

Suffering sales. I watch the antics
of her southern foil (unlikely foil
but still) and, equally, the circles
under her eyes, wonder if as a girl she ever picked
a dandelion globe and surged to blow it to the wind—
stopped herself, cupped it with her hand.

(May 11, 2020)

Corona #7 (Lack)

Stopped herself. Cupped it with her hand.
I mean from crying out. I mean she hid
her finger black from work. I made
that up with facts from the report but our ground
beef she picked for bones is true. And that she died
from you know what a day after officials said
her plant was safe. Condolences not said
until the news revealed the lack and the lie.

The sky above the Taj Mahal is blue.
The Louvre emptier for all the life it’s held.
Great halls are vast with music never heard.
And vast the time I haven’t spent with you.

Her husband works there too, when asked
said he felt numb (translated, speaking through a mask).

(May 17, 2020)

Corona #8 (Cover)

Said he felt numb. Translated, speaking through a mask,
her husband said he’d caught it too, and, speaking
through a mask, my husband in the parking lot pokes
a swab into a patient’s nose, and, fumbling with his mask,
his father plants the beans,
his hair white with silver, his mask handsewn, patterned with yellow chicks and pale
green fish, he stoops to sow the kale,
adjusts his mask, kneeling, leaning.

Kids on bikes but mostly quiet on our street.
Our grass, our hair is clipped, the rose climbs
almost in ordinary time,
it pricks my thumb for blooms, it’s sweet

before: ho-hum, we’re getting on a plane,
on our way to—(nothing will be the same).

Corona #7 (Lack)

 

“Literature is news that stays news.” (Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading, 1934)

This week’s poem is written in response to one of those news stories that has stayed news by haunting me.

It’s a long way down by now, at the end of the ever-expanding crown.

I invite you in. 

Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

(March 30, 2020)

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Pecking, oblivious,
the Safeway crows construct in blooming trees
what’s theirs. What’s ours? Try not to seize
the toilet paper please. One each. Whereas
this homeless guy and the queen (immaculate
in green) get less and more and more and less.
But take a look at Boris, the virus
doesn’t discriminate (it does it does).

And how much Easter chocolate should I get?
And should I fill my cart until it’s filled?
Southeast of here a potter’s field is filled
and let me out of here, I want to get
into my car, in safety watch this blessed
family conferring, twining twigs into a nest.

(April 11, 2020)

Corona #3 (Spring)

Family conferring, twining twigs into a nest;
cherry, trillium, corona bloom
while a buffoon condemns the WHO; in Zoom,
inside, outside, in danger zones, the rest
battle the king of everywhere
who won’t allow a service for the dead
and sneaks noiseless into the lungs, is dread
on surfaces but strangely isn’t tearing

us apart; we will receive their surplus
masks, we are arriving at the ends
of paragraphs and meals; that wending
of the river the evening he surprised us—
dark swath, a log until it gleamed;
a beaver dived into the running stream.

(April 18, 2020)

Corona #4 (News)

A beaver dived into the running stream
that became river, estuary, strait, a sea
that made a mist that hid a strain that came to be
the news—old news. It replicates, like rhyme,
with slight changes: a home is hit, old people
die. And then it’s him. Almost a century,
from Hamilton by way of Sicily
and then it’s him. A nurse’s phone took people

to his side. FaceTime: maybe my uncle
heard my violin. Alone he was
and wasn’t. It was him. Amid the chaos
of the news I heard the news that he
died. Turned on the news. Care home, virus.
That body on the gurney could be his.

(April 25, 2020)

Corona #5 (Until)

That body on the gurney could be his,
his body’s journey to an urn the sun
will warm until—until. Not soon
the service. Gather not, until. Selfish,
you wish a crowded ship, haircuts, a trip
across the border or those olden days
you’d have a person over. This is a phase
you tell yourself, beating the overripe
bananas into bread, shaping a poem
into the closet where you write, the lines
contained by laundry, a slight desk, aligned
by rules of close and far; windowless home.
Most are at home. Where is the unveil,
a way we can be us again until—

(May 2, 2020)

Corona #6 (Doctor)

A way we can be us again until
we can be us again depends on a curve
she worried early into flattening (her
pause; the track on her cheek for the frail,
the numbers weighing, unsleeping her,
delivered without fail, in measured tones
what can’t be measured; for even one,
in even tones, how evenly she suffers).

Suffering sales. I watch the antics
of her southern foil (unlikely foil
but still) and, equally, the circles
under her eyes, wonder if as a girl she ever picked
a dandelion globe and surged to blow it to the wind—
stopped herself, cupped it with her hand.

(May 11, 2020)

Corona #7 (Lack)

Stopped herself. Cupped it with her hand.
I mean from crying out. I mean she hid
her finger black from work. I made
that up with facts from the report but our ground
beef she picked for bones is true. And that she died
from you know what a day after officials said
her plant was safe. Condolences not said
until the news revealed the lack and the lie.

The sky above the Taj Mahal is blue.
The Louvre emptier for all the life it’s held.
Great halls are vast with music never heard.
And vast the time I haven’t spent with you.

Her husband works there too, when asked
said he felt numb (translated, speaking through a mask).

Corona #6 (Doctor)

 

This week’s new sonnet, “Corona #6 (Doctor)”, is for Dr. Bonnie Henry.

In the hyperlink, I apologize for the annoying Volvo ad that precedes the video. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a “Skip Ad” option here.

Next week marks the seventh sonnet and the traditional end to a sonnet corona. But as I mentioned at the outset of this project, the end of the pandemic will determine the size of this corona (or chain, depending on how you look at it) so it doesn’t look as if the sonnets will be stopping anytime soon.

You’ll find the new one at the end.

I invite you in.

Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

(March 30, 2020)

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Pecking, oblivious,
the Safeway crows construct in blooming trees
what’s theirs. What’s ours? Try not to seize
the toilet paper please. One each. Whereas
this homeless guy and the queen (immaculate
in green) get less and more and more and less.
But take a look at Boris, the virus
doesn’t discriminate (it does it does).

And how much Easter chocolate should I get?
And should I fill my cart until it’s filled?
Southeast of here a potter’s field is filled
and let me out of here, I want to get
into my car, in safety watch this blessed
family conferring, twining twigs into a nest.

(April 11, 2020)

Corona #3 (Spring)

Family conferring, twining twigs into a nest;
cherry, trillium, corona bloom
while a buffoon condemns the WHO; in Zoom,
inside, outside, in danger zones, the rest
battle the king of everywhere
who won’t allow a service for the dead
and sneaks noiseless into the lungs, is dread
on surfaces but strangely isn’t tearing

us apart; we will receive their surplus
masks, we are arriving at the ends
of paragraphs and meals; that wending
of the river the evening he surprised us—
dark swath, a log until it gleamed;
a beaver dived into the running stream.

(April 18, 2020)

Corona #4 (News)

A beaver dived into the running stream
that became river, estuary, strait, a sea
that made a mist that hid a strain that came to be
the news—old news. It replicates, like rhyme,
with slight changes: a home is hit, old people
die. And then it’s him. Almost a century,
from Hamilton by way of Sicily
and then it’s him. A nurse’s phone took people

to his side. FaceTime: maybe my uncle
heard my violin. Alone he was
and wasn’t. It was him. Amid the chaos
of the news I heard the news that he
died. Turned on the news. Care home, virus.
That body on the gurney could be his.

(April 25, 2020)

Corona #5 (Until)

That body on the gurney could be his,
his body’s journey to an urn the sun
will warm until—until. Not soon
the service. Gather not, until. Selfish,
you wish a crowded ship, haircuts, a trip
across the border or those olden days
you’d have a person over. This is a phase
you tell yourself, beating the overripe
bananas into bread, shaping a poem
into the closet where you write, the lines
contained by laundry, a slight desk, aligned
by rules of close and far; windowless home.
Most are at home. Where is the unveil,
a way we can be us again until—

(May 2, 2020)

Corona #6 (Doctor)

A way we can be us again until
we can be us again depends on a curve
she worried early into flattening (her
pause; the track on her cheek for the frail,
the numbers weighing, unsleeping her,
delivered without fail, in measured tones
what can’t be measured; for even one,
in even tones, how evenly she suffers).

Suffering sales. I watch the antics
of her southern foil (unlikely foil
but still) and, equally, the circles
under her eyes, wonder if as a girl she ever picked
a dandelion globe and surged to blow it to the wind—
stopped herself, cupped it with her hand.

 

Corona #5 (Until)

These days, I’m writing in the upstairs closet because my office has turned into a part-time telemedicine/virtual clinic for my husband and my kids need other spaces for school. I found myself reining in the last lines of this week’s sonnet to make it resemble my writing space, a gesture of isolation that raised some questions—how long before temporary arrangements become permanent? How long will the closet crown be?

You’ll find “Corona #5 (Until)” at the end of the chain—I invite you in.

Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

(March 30, 2020)

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Pecking, oblivious,
the Safeway crows construct in blooming trees
what’s theirs. What’s ours? Try not to seize
the toilet paper please. One each. Whereas
this homeless guy and the queen (immaculate
in green) get less and more and more and less.
But take a look at Boris, the virus
doesn’t discriminate (it does it does).

And how much Easter chocolate should I get?
And should I fill my cart until it’s filled?
Southeast of here a potter’s field is filled
and let me out of here, I want to get
into my car, in safety watch this blessed
family conferring, twining twigs into a nest.

(April 11, 2020)

Corona #3 (Spring)

Family conferring, twining twigs into a nest;
cherry, trillium, corona bloom
while a buffoon condemns the WHO; in Zoom,
inside, outside, in danger zones, the rest
battle the king of everywhere
who won’t allow a service for the dead
and sneaks noiseless into the lungs, is dread
on surfaces but strangely isn’t tearing

us apart; we will receive their surplus
masks, we are arriving at the ends
of paragraphs and meals; that wending
of the river the evening he surprised us—
dark swath, a log until it gleamed;
a beaver dived into the running stream.

(April 18, 2020)

Corona #4 (News)

A beaver dived into the running stream
that became river, estuary, strait, a sea
that made a mist that hid a strain that came to be
the news—old news. It replicates, like rhyme,
with slight changes: a home is hit, old people
die. And then it’s him. Almost a century,
from Hamilton by way of Sicily
and then it’s him. A nurse’s phone took people

to his side. FaceTime: maybe my uncle
heard my violin. Alone he was
and wasn’t. It was him. Amid the chaos
of the news I heard the news that he
died. Turned on the news. Care home, virus.
That body on the gurney could be his.

(April 25, 2020)

Corona #5 (Until)

That body on the gurney could be his,
his body’s journey to an urn the sun
will warm until—until. Not soon
the service. Gather not, until. Selfish,
you wish a crowded ship, haircuts, a trip
across the border or those olden days
you’d have a person over. This is a phase
you tell yourself, beating the overripe
bananas into bread, shaping a poem
into the closet where you write, the lines
contained by laundry, a slight desk, aligned
by rules of close and far; windowless home.
Most are at home. Where is the unveil,
a way we can be us again until—

Corona #4 (News)

It’s been a hard week in the news.

Today new light. New breath. New weather, music.

A sonnet. You’ll find “Corona #4 (News)” below the first three that I include so you can see how the crown has grown since I launched this project on March 30.

I invite you in.

Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

(March 30, 2020)

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Pecking, oblivious,
the Safeway crows construct in blooming trees
what’s theirs. What’s ours? Try not to seize
the toilet paper please. One each. Whereas
this homeless guy and the queen (immaculate
in green) get less and more and more and less.
But take a look at Boris, the virus
doesn’t discriminate (it does it does).

And how much Easter chocolate should I get?
And should I fill my cart until it’s filled?
Southeast of here a potter’s field is filled
and let me out of here, I want to get
into my car, in safety watch this blessed
family conferring, twining twigs into a nest.

(April 11, 2020)

Corona #3 (Spring)

Family conferring, twining twigs into a nest;
cherry, trillium, corona bloom
while a buffoon condemns the WHO; in Zoom,
inside, outside, in danger zones, the rest
battle the king of everywhere
who won’t allow a service for the dead
and sneaks noiseless into the lungs, is dread
on surfaces but strangely isn’t tearing

us apart; we will receive their surplus
masks, we are arriving at the ends
of paragraphs and meals; that wending
of the river the evening he surprised us—
dark swath, a log until it gleamed;
a beaver dived into the running stream.

(April 18, 2020)

Corona #4 (News)

A beaver dived into the running stream
that became river, estuary, strait, a sea
that made a mist that hid a strain that came to be
the news—old news. It replicates, like rhyme,
with slight changes: a home is hit, old people
die. And then it’s him. Almost a century,
from Hamilton by way of Sicily
and then it’s him. A nurse’s phone took people

to his side. FaceTime: maybe my uncle
heard my violin. Alone he was
and wasn’t. It was him. Amid the chaos
of the news I heard the news that he
died. Turned on the news. Care home, virus.
That body on the gurney could be his.

Corona #3 (Spring)

 

Yesterday in B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry reported no new deaths in the last 24 hours, and no new outbreaks in care homes or correctional centres. She said our curve is flattening.

You’ll find the new Sonnet #3 (Spring) below the other two, both included again this week so you can see the way the crown (corona) has changed.

I invite you in.

Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

(March 30, 2020)

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Pecking, oblivious,
the Safeway crows construct in blooming trees
what’s theirs. What’s ours? Try not to seize
the toilet paper please. One each. Whereas
this homeless guy and the queen (immaculate
in green) get less and more and more and less.
But take a look at Boris, the virus
doesn’t discriminate (it does it does).

And how much Easter chocolate should I get?
And should I fill my cart until it’s filled?
Southeast of here a potter’s field is filled
and let me out of here, I want to get
into my car, in safety watch this blessed
family conferring, twining twigs into a nest.

(April 11, 2020)

Corona #3 (Spring)

Family conferring, twining twigs into a nest;
cherry, trillium, corona bloom
while a buffoon condemns the WHO; in Zoom,
inside, outside, in danger zones, the rest
battle the king of everywhere
who won’t allow a service for the dead
and sneaks noiseless into the lungs, is dread
on surfaces but strangely isn’t tearing

us apart; we will receive their surplus
masks, we are arriving at the ends
of paragraphs and meals; that wending
of the river the evening he surprised us—
dark swath, a log until it gleamed;
a beaver dived into the running stream.

 

 

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Since I launched this sonnet corona project a week ago, the rooster featured in the last line of the first sonnet has disappeared down the tracks to who knows where—maybe he made his way home. So I found another pecking creature in the Safeway parking lot to lead off Sonnet #2.

I’ve repeated last week’s sonnet and added this week’s after it so you can get a feel for the way the crown is taking shape and how the sonnets exist in relation to each other.

I invite you in.

 Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

(March 30, 2020)

Corona #2 (Safeway)

Pecking, oblivious,
the Safeway crows construct in blooming trees
what’s theirs. What’s ours? Try not to seize
the toilet paper please. One each. Whereas
this homeless guy and the queen (immaculate
in green) get less and more and more and less.
But take a look at Boris, the virus
doesn’t discriminate

(it does it does).

And how much Easter chocolate should I get?
And should I fill my cart until it’s filled?
Southeast of here a potter’s field is filled
and let me out of here, I want to get
into my car, in safety watch this blessed
family conferring, twining twigs into a nest.

 

Corona for a Corona

Corona #1 (And so)

And so begins its rule (google to see its crown
under a microscope). Infected prince.
Infected star. And so begins your cancelled
life (infected wife). And over there half-mast is flown
(they load the coffins into trucks). And so
begins shopping with gloves (your mother over
there and when you’ll get to her is never
maybe); talking in screens, and so and so—

And I lie awake with itchy hands.
And tenderize the meat with hammered blows.
And when we’ll meet and touch nobody knows.
And so we live by stats and rules and ands.

That rooster down the tracks
pecking, oblivious.

 

A crown of sonnets or sonnet corona—seven interlinked sonnets: the last line of the first sonnet is the first line of the second sonnet. The last line of the second sonnet is the first line of the third sonnet, and so on. When you get to the seventh sonnet, you make its last line the same as the first line of the first sonnet to form a circle, or crown, a perfect corona.

John Donne wrote the seven sonnets of La Corona in 1607. My project is to write a corona for these times, but with a difference in number. Every few days (or once a week depending on how they come), I’ll link another sonnet to the crown and in this way write the pandemic for as long as it lasts (my hunch is not seven).

One sonnet will touch or be with another the way we can’t right now. And so in the face of social isolation, in the midst of this ever-changing, life-changing virus—a corona for a corona. I invite you in.

 

 

News

Barbara’s poem “The Milk River” has just appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of The Fiddlehead.


Barbara’s poem “Essential Tremor” appeared in the March 2020 issue of The Walrus. 


The Mozart Girl has been selected by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for the Fall 2019 Edition of Best Books for Kids and Teens.


Barbara’s A Boy Asked the Wind is one of 19 titles for children chosen by Reading Canada in anticipation of Canada’s upcoming Guest of Honour position at the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair.


A Boy Asked the Wind


Video by Shaw TV of Barbara presenting and talking about A Boy Asked the Wind:


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