Poem of the week: Digits

A new work by Micheal O’Siadhail

Micheal O’ Siadhail. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Micheal O’ Siadhail. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

This week New York has topped ten thousand dead.
But what do thousands mean? Each death is one.
Behind each digit see one face instead
Of someone’s father, mother, daughter, son.

A sleepless city’s newfound silent nights
Unused to rest keeps tossing in distress
Alarmed by sirens, red-blue flashing lights
Accelerating through strange noiselessness.

The fingered ones before they know confined
In isolation Covid can’t outsmart,
All known beloved faces left behind,
As in last agonies they’re set apart.

Nursed by each kind and masked unknown,
Though tended to the end, they die alone.

Micheal O’Siadhail is living at present in New York City. His latest book is The Five Quintets published by Baylor University Press in 2018