Author’s note: “My mother contracted a severe case of polio in 1950, shortly after we moved to the very small town of Weldon, North Carolina. Our whole family was quarantined in the house there, with my mother confined to her room. I have been haunted by that ever since. There is a poem called “Polio” in my first book, published fifty years ago. And now this new poem out of the pandemic’s quarantine, salted by the lies of President Trump and sobered by the balm cast over our lives by Pablo Casals playing Bach’s Cello Suites.”
Safe as Houses
When my mother came down with polio houses ago
In a small town near enough to nowhere,
She was brought to breathe her best in the hospital here
While I played and slept behind signs saying NO.
You and I weren’t even glints in each other’s eyes.
Seventy years away, and the spell is still
Strict isolation. Droplets in the air can kill.
On television the lying President lies.
We turn him off and let the room come clean
To the bowing of a cello by Casals
And the blessed rainwater where it spills
Its merciful glitter at the window screen.
Now all’s accustomed, Pablo takes his bows,
In the hall a grandson’s painted dream of a house.
Gibbons Ruark has published poems widely for over fifty years. His latest collection is The Road to Ballyvaughan. Recent poems have appeared in The New Yorker and The Irish Times. Ruark has won numerous awards, including three poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in Ireland, and a Pushcart Prize. He lives with his wife Kay in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Delmarva Review’s 14th edition, just released, is an independent collection of the best new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writing. In this, its largest edition, editors selected the writing of seventy authors that stood out from thousands of submissions during the year. The review is available in print and digital editions from Amazon.com and other major online booksellers, as well as from regional specialty bookstores.