I was out of home for April. Renovation. A plan made late last year. Looking back, who could have envisioned the novel beast on the horizon?

Thought it was strategic to move out close to home to oversight proceedings. It turned out I didn’t venture out, much less oversighting.

I stayed in a temporary home in the land of sacred homes. Mary McKillop Place in the next street, every second building is an Australian Catholic University campus. But a sacred shelter I didn’t feel my neighbourhood was.

I went for solitude walks in St Leonards Park, young fathers pushing strollers, few people shared my space…except, came late afternoon, joggers started to pound the paths, working off their strangely isolated work day of Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

I ducked into grassland to hide from their enthusiasm, acutely aware of Norman Swan’s estmation of the air power of these human moving machines. We shared the same health goals but for the quarter centry that separated our births. They will have a lifetime of struggles ahead of them. Those muscle-proud legs will run strong against life’s headwinds.

Life became somewhat tentative. Decision Fatigue is the syndrome they name it. Take it easy, take it slow, every interaction with the ouside world calls for deliberation.

So Corona, look what you made me do in this valley of time. I became a bit tentative approaching my trusted tradesmen until they showed me, in my absence, how they patiently restored my 19th century home for it to last another 100 years. I was a little shy with my elderly neighbour until she was the first to mask up to shield both of us.

Depending on our perspectives, this can be a tiny glimpse of humanity, or indeed a huge deal showing me the irreprssibly positive power of community, our Aussie community.

  • KIM VU


Only a week into my fellowship at the Cite Internationale des Arts and we’re in lockdown. Just my luck. Who would’ve thought this mean virus could attack Paris, of all places? The City of Love, where people entwined in the streets, or in the Metro, are common sights? Now the streets are almost empty, and hardly anyone dares board the Metro. From my tiny balcony I can just see the Place Pont Marie, usually swarming with commuters, is deserted.

It is said this new virus acts a little like Puck’s magic potion in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: those infected will feel the pangs of love for whoever they lock eyes with. There are strict boundaries drawn on every promenade. Cafes and bars along the boulevards are closed, and cabarets such as the Moulin Rouge are memories.

I’ve been given the Nancy Keesing Studio to write in, as befitting a woman author from Australia. Across the courtyard is another writer’s studio. He’s the well-known Portuguese poet I’ve long admired. I was so looking forward to meeting him, discussing our work together. But it’s not to be. I must content myself with a glimpse through his window of his black curly head bent over his desk. He glances up and returns my gaze. I feel like a voyeur and quickly look away.

Next door to his studio is another with a tiny balcony just like mine. A woman steps on to it, dressed only in a negligee. Even from this distance I can see she’s wearing nothing underneath it. I recognise her with a jolt of excitement and some embarrassment: it’s our own great poet and essayist, the controversial Emily Von Grun. Wait! She’s leaning over her balcony towards the Portuguese poet’s window. She throws a small pebble, expertly aimed , so that it hits the edge of the pane. He looks up and smiles. A moment later his window is empty.

The virus, named Eros 20, impels the victim to make love to any man or woman, youth or elder, who they set eyes on, indiscriminate of race or creed. The inevitable outcome of this overwhelming passion is death.

Through the window opposite I can see Emily, apparently naked, lying limply over her desk. Her greying auburn hair flows over the keys of her computer. I reach for my phone, horror creeping up my spine. As I do so there’s a knock on my door.

It’s the Portuguese poet. His beautiful green eyes are alight with lust. I back away as he advances. He is too strong for me, and in spite of, or perhaps because of, my terror, my body responds. In the midst of overwhelming passion my only thought is: what a wonderful way to die.

Paris is still the City of Love, especially in the time of Eros20.


For more fiction by Dina Davis, see her recent novel: