Volume 12 • Number 2 • Fall - Winter 2020

John Palen

In the Pandemic, the Animals Return

Shut inside, we see them
flowing back into our lives
like tide reclaiming a shallow bay.

We have time now to observe
male flickers do their shy, funny
challenge dances at our windows.
Fish flash in the clear canals of Venice,
boars wander a Barcelona eight-lane,
coyotes trot grandly through the Loop.

The man coming out of a long coma
sees animals in the corner of his eye.
Foxes and cats and shadows
sit quietly in the room,
keeping him company.

John Palen lives in retirement on the Grand Prairie of Illinois. Mayapple Press brought out his third book, Distant Music, in 2017. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sheila-Na-Gig, Ocotillo Review, SPLASH!, Flint Hills Review, Williwaw Journal, and Great Lakes Review.