two person in long sleeved shirt shakehand

The Meeting

by Seun Lari-Williams

A pandemic meets an old man on the road.

Who is this who is not afraid of me? It asks.

You must be religious, I believe.

Which of the gods do you worship?


I am not religious, the old man replies,

I must go about my business.

You must be immune, then, the pandemic says,

or perhaps you have found a cure?


I really don’t care, the old man groans,

my business is urgent, I must go.

Then surely, you are foolish, the pandemic retorts.

Have you not heard the reports?


I am hunger, the old man began,

I’ve been here since the world began.

Wars and diseases, they come and they go.

None has lived as long as I have.

You burn at both ends; your end is near.

I burn slow like fine firewood.

Keep them indoors and fill them with fright,

but when I knock, they come right out.


Your reputation precedes you, the pandemic responds

and bows before the old man.

They kiss, hug and shake hands like old friends and

smile knowingly at each other.


The old man takes his leave and continues his routine—

knocking on doors and turning knobs.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


SEUN LARI-WILLIAMS was born in Lagos on 28th April 1987. He is a lawyer, poet, and flutist. His first anthology – Garri for Breakfast, was longlisted for the 2017 NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature. His poem, ‘A Little Violence’, won the second prize in the 2019 Guardian Newspaper Poetry Competition. He is married to his best friend, Feyi and they reside in Munich, Germany where he is a DAAD Scholar for a masters’ degree in intellectual property law.



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