Koran-koran and the Virus

Koran-koran the pied oyster-
catcher.
Haematopus longirostris.
Blood-red beak and eye,
red legs too, black pupil
matching chest and wing,
with white underbelly.

The black centre of its eye ringed in red,
opposite to a bull’s-eye,
stares from endless depths.

Its long beak announcing
something of its purpose.
Longirostris.

It floats in, solitary
and isolated from beach end,
as I approach opposite,
yet the same.

It sets down on the
sand, near granite rocks
placed against the rising tide.

I sing to it a while,
and it sits, pauses, listening.
As I pass, my shadow touching it,
it lifts off for a breath,
and lands upon a rock.

It keeps its beak pointed north-east
to wind and morning sun,
as do three cruise ships
waiting on the horizon.

Soon he’s scanning the granite
rocks for shells, which he plucks
and carries away from waves
to the water’s furthest edge.
He pokes the shell with his
beak, driving it into
the sand, before pulling something
out and swallowing it.
(Or else he tries it on the
granite rock itself.)

A city beach in the world morning,
just me and koran-koran.
And I can’t help but think
he’s been shaped for this way
of hunting, of gathering –
his calling.

Same way birds – in general – are shaped –
are sculpted – by air and wind.

Same way –
strange to say –
our lungs are shaped
by earth.

Churchill said,
“First we shape our buildings;
thereafter they shape us.”

Same way we shape institutions
and all of social life –
all society –
with it then shaping us.

A virus is a physical thing –
it fills our physical substance,
moreso if this is not occupied by
the rest of us – it’s our
Self that fights it off.
What is us
and what is not.

Do we find these Selves – these I’s –
who we are – in the world
around us?
Is it this that shapes society?

Things are not so fixed
as they may seem.
Schiller said that in our social forms –
society –
we must be able to find
the human being.

Things are not so fixed as they may seem.
Society is a being.
How healthy is it?
Do we shape it as it needs to be?
As the human being
needs?

Things are not so fixed.
In the lung the outside world
meets the in.
A virus forces us to
be conscious of what is –
and what is not – us –
our Selves.

Can these Selves now shape
a world that then shapes us –
a better world, where the human
being is reflected;
nothing less,
and nothing more.

Are we shaped by these forms,
as well as this place and time?
Are we shaped and here now, fit-
for-purpose, like koran-koran?

Is it not the case – for all of us –
as a colleague has said,
“This is the moment
I was born for”?

Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 10.10.44 am

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