All Returning

A poem from COVID’s worst months

Paul Greenberg
1 min readMar 10, 2023


Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

“O-oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada,”

Sings the white-throated sparrow

From Manhattan’s southern tip.

All the bluster has gone out of the City’s roar.

Even a bird can out-sing it.

I board the empty Rockaway ferry.

A gannet, our local albatross, glides alongside.

With its neck crooked it scans the New York Bight,

Translucent blue-green now,

Clear and clean as the Dutch saw it.

West of the Rockaway dock

A bandit with bandana over mouth and nose

Sells me flounder bait through a tackle shop window.

Doors to stores are locked up tight.

Windows are all that’s left.

But at least I’ve got my bait.


Overfished and all but gone these thirty years.

Will they come back, too?

April and May

Now and probably forever in our memories,

Dark and deathly months.

The only two months the law lets you keep a flounder.

I would like to catch a couple.

Two is all you’re allowed to kill.

And if I catch them

I will eat them.



Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World