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This poem is taken from PN Review 259, Volume 47 Number 5, May - June 2021.

‘Symptomatology’ and other poems Jim Johnstone
Let me tell you what I was told: the virus
will spare those who stay two meters
apart. Those who stay inert. Generations
will spare those who stay two meters
apart. Those who stay inert. Generations
of passers-by pass through our masks
as a dog lugs a piece of wood
that could be left over from the ark,
the hull of the ship splintered
like the animals paired off in the Good Book.
Two-by-two they walked out of the sea,
and two-by-two they bred and stank
and barked until they spread disease.
I cast my line. A man with the body
of a shark tells me that the only option
is to keep my distance, don’t talk, don’t hug
friends or family. There could be blood

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