Double Sonnet to Edward Cullen, Dying of Spanish Flu

Nadia Lines

‘In all the chaos of the epidemic, no-one would ever realise I was gone.’ – from Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

These days, handsome young men die quickly.
You were slower than most, though, sweating
through your pyjamas, sweating through your
strange bronze hair. You would have made
a fine corpse somewhere, mud spattered and
gangrenous, but, then, would anyone (apart from
the poets and Ancestry.com) really care
for your beauty? Because what is beauty
when there is no capacity to clean your teeth
or see your fiancée or have warm feet
or feel your face beneath the chin strap
of a helmet, your face beneath the
incandescent bulbs? Your teenage years
were burned up by adults.

What do you do when you are seventeen and the
world is ending? When you are seventeen you are
told that you should take chance on the chin
and live, live, live. Forevers are earnest
and empty and your shoes on the pavement
sound like the shattering heartbeats
of God. Now, all days are spent under duvets,
drifting between fever dreams of holding
someone’s hand, or standing at a busy stall of
flowers, or taking a bus. Does it matter that the secret
to living forever is in your doctor’s teeth? You just
want a nice day at the beach. You want to swim
in the sea with a nice girl. You want to eat handfuls
of strawberries, then fall asleep warm on the sand.