Only faces in little boxes now; blinking and peering
into a starless space, not knowing what to do –
except perhaps, wave. Our host asks each box:
What’s new with you? We talk, in turns.
We share the virtual part – meaning
the essence. It’s lovely. How this half-body
huddle forces us to talk; how we conform,
like grafted stalks, to a new light source.
Dante insists our afterlives will be the now eternal.
I study my husband’s framed face unselfconsciously.
No one can see me gazing at our years.
My sons, I see, have become men whose eyes
are equable and clear. Time lapses freeze, in pixel images,
expressions like true selves they made as toddlers.
On TV, the Pope delivers the Mass to empty seats.
How alone he looks – in spite of the live stream.
No pilgrims, no Vatican City festooned with flowers;
only police to hold the barricades. And yet, the numbers say,
more watched and listened to the liturgy than ever
attended. On sofas that sag, on laptops, in drive-thru caravans
for bread and wine. An insistence on right seasons if only to prove
we are different from our dogs. We hear a whistle too.