by Kate Maxwell

When it came, the unfamiliar fear
to our comfortable first world lives
we thought it would come in bomb 
shells, toxic fumes, exploding suns

but it crept inside us: our lungs, and 
hearts, travelled over skin and breath
loitered in restaurants, office foyers
trains, stealing air, and any reason

to embrace the other. Masked, as just 
another virus, it plucked wisdom from
the fearful crowds which some claimed
         insignificant, their time was done.

Our harder hearts exposed. Squeezed 
by panicked politicians and splutterers 
of spin. Brought fools, and leaders, then
countries to their knees, but not in prayer

or gratitude. There was no blockbuster 
moment, no grave dulcet-toned president 
uniting nations with his steady gaze, old 
white man words, but a slow realisation

that we are not even nation, but disparate
tribes beating at chests, scared of each 
other, scared of the sun, and scared that
        our reckoning has finally come. 


Kate Maxwell is a Sydney writer and teacher. She’s been published and awarded in Australian and International literary magazines for many years. Kate’s interests include film, wine, and sleeping. Her poetry anthology, Never Good at Maths is published with Interactive Publications, Brisbane. Find her at https://kateswritingplace.com/