Coming out of Lockdown – a Confused New World
It’s now over three months since the Corona Virus lockdown began in the UK. There have been so many words written about this, so many opinions shouted, so much hurt and resentment, and most of all – such deep, deep loss. I am a quick thinker – but slow to come to any conclusions. It will take me a long time to figure out what all this means. All I do for now, is take one shaky step at a time: to live my life, stay reasonably well and sane, and reach out – from a distance – to the people, and the things, I care about most. Some people are rushing out into the world, hurling themselves off cliffs, crowding beautiful beaches, and piling into parks in a boozy throng, now that restrictions are beginning to ease. Not me. By nature more cautious, I wait. And still I wait. Trying to figure out how to shape a new life, from the ashes of the old. One thing that has been a unifying force for me and for my young adult daughter, who currently lives at home with me, has been the joy of the weekly grocery delivery. Lists and online slots have become her unique selling point in the household, and there is much excited talk of what to order, what to cook, and how to nourish ourselves in this depleted, exhausting time. Here is a poem based on that premise. I have no joined up eloquence to express what is happening. So a simple list will have to do.
1. Out of stock/currently unavailable:
The faces of friends, of family and colleagues, wreathed in smiles – poised for argument, or song.
A touch of the hand in welcome.
The noise of the theatre: the five minute call.
Soft steps of the T’ai Chi, walked together, as one.
A beer in the little local bar.
Bus journeys. Train journeys. Plane journeys.
Freedom to fly: in body, in mind.
Another country. Many countries.
Budapest. Ireland. The North Yorkshire Coast.
All my dead beloveds.
My old dog. And other dogs, too.
The beat up gold Toyota Yaris, sent for scrap in January. Would have been useful now.
Courage to go where I please, unmasked, and carefree, and open.
The wildness of the world, beyond the hedges of my garden.
An appetite for reading.
A keenness to study.
A mind that can focus.
The energy to dream.
2. Unexpected items in bagging area:
Animals taking over city streets, as the whales start to sing again.
My old shed – tidied and cleared, after years of neglect.
Fairy lights sparkling in the dark, wellington boots standing to attention.
Tomato seeds planted in tomato cans.
Lettuce plants raggedly greening.
Toothache and patience. Paracetamol and codeine. Moxa and deep red wine.
Raging against injustice.
Rebellion and riots.
Forty thousand dead – and rising.
A black man dies at the knee of a white policeman: fire in the Minneapolis streets.
Eight minutes, forty six seconds. ∗
Justice demanded, statues start to topple.
Frenzied voices, confused agendas.
Moments of calm.
The kindness of strangers.
Deliveries and phone calls.
Solidarity in the distance: disembodied zoom calls. Echoing. Frozen.
Self care, snoozing, sleepiness, exhaustion.
Mother and daughter, together.
Comrades in the kitchen, politics in the living room.
Silence and sorrow.
And the bitter-sweet song of the birds.
∗ On 25 May 2020, George Floyd died on the street in Minneapolis, after being arrested and handcuffed, with a policeman’s knee pressed on his neck for eight minutes and forty six seconds, suffocating him to death. #BlackLivesMatter