Flannel Flâneur: Shop Street Via Webcam

Anxiety grips the stilled hearts of a
sickened world’s great cities.

As loneliness seeps into my quarantine,
I just want to see. Anything. Anything at all.

I cannot bear an empty Times Square.
Shuttered Paris. Paralyzed Rome.

So I settle on Galway. Shop Street
is as sad as the others, but at least

a breeze is blowing colorful flags above the lane,
cold spring sun stretches across bricks.

Wrapped in flannel, I sip on bitter tea
and watch a trickle of humanity

walk around and away from one another
or in pairs, stagger careful distance, suspicious.

I put on a sorrowful soundtrack,
cannot stop watching.

A boy on a red bicycle weaves with abandon around
a dangerous gaggle of girls who cannot smell pox in the air.

A man in a black cap walks backwards
as if he can unwind time.

Oliver Wendell Holmes comes to mind,
“I claim the Christian Pagan’s line,

Humani nihil,—even so,—
And is not human life divine?”

I watch the man go in reverse, on and on
across my screen, into shadows, disappear.

Gina Williams