SCENES FROM THE Queen City of the North,
Springtime, early evening, forty degrees
Light from the setting sun is filtering through the trees,
A j0gger, clad in NMU green, pounds the pavement,
A father and daughter play catch on their front lawn,
A solitary bicyclist pedals her way up the bike path,
Passing, eight feet away, a solitary walker.
The cheerful little downtown, widely praised for its charm
Is strangely quiet. Hardly a car.
The lone motorist waits at the stoplight alone,
Then turns onto Third Street, alone.
The dog-walkers are out, though, all bundled up,
The dogs wondering Why? Why so many walks?
They amble past Vangos, past the Casa,
Closed. Such strange stillness, such eerie calm.
The NMU campus seems empty, deserted
Ahh, there’s a young lady, lost in thought, wrapped in her earphones,
And a young man, lost in conversation, on his cellphone
But no groups, no smiles, no joyful, youthful pursuits.
Out on the shore, a fisherman or two trying their luck
At Clark’s Park, a picnic for four, Mom buttoning up the youngest,
And just beyond the beach on a sand bar
Stand three seagulls, oblivious to all but the Lake and the setting sun.
The neighbooods: Where are the people saying Hello…How you doin’?
Here, there’s woman on her porch, knitting
And over there, a man firing up his chainsaw
But no conversation. The Queen City is quiet, withdrawn.
But wait! A cluster of adults and children on College Avenue
Standing ten feet apart, but talking, smiling, and waving
“You know, this is a good thing,” one of the women says,
A peculiar comment. She doesn’t elaborate.
But she means, perhaps, we’re rediscovering each other and ourselves
Learning to appreciate each other
And the lives we’ve lost. Temporarily.
Knowing that we’ll wake up tomorrow, reborn.