Poem: Curfew, Melbourne 2020

Curfew, Melbourne 2020

Unimaginable city, locked down in its dark tomb,
Its streets masked for an uncommon cold.

Now all movement and strangeness stopped at 8 pm.
Some turn in in fear; we turn inward in defiance.

We will not be interred within five kilometres of home,
Not by the impatient doctors and erring statisticians

Who mutter the words of some defunct military strategist:
“This will be a campaign unlike any other in history.

“A campaign characterized by shock, by surprise, by … overwhelming force.”
A population cowers in unhealthy awe at the daily tacking of Captain Ahab.

Eliminate the white whale, he cries.
Hunt it down with the genomic trace.

But the crew never could comprehend the captain’s crazed commands.
The epi harpoon never could slay the majesty of nature.

So, when the whale’s tail clapped the ocean into a wave,
The Pequod was split; and we sank to this dark ocean floor.

RNA-seething city, city full of dead dreams,
Where ghosts by daylight tug the passer’s sleeve

And ask: can the captain raise the dismasted wreck?
Are we doomed to prowl the cold dim ocean floor

Until the miracle appears, and death, decay and illness
Disappear from this world, like the joy of a chance encounter,

Which for forty nights is banned from this distanced city,

Whose undead citizens shelter in silenced vengeance.

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