Poems written during Lockdown by members of Trowbridge Stanza
by Ginny Saunders
Early, he brings a slug to bed
I don’t cry out, it’s new to our zoo
so welcome. It hitched a ride
from a dewy glade of grass,
shrunken and mucus-bound
to his soft belly fur.
It won’t survive the dryness of our bed.
On my finger it unfurls,
those wandering eyes,
oblivious to earth’s gravity
I flick it from the window
onto a wild lawn of white bluebells.
Each spring they disappoint
like the deceit of ‘blue’ roses.
I’ve lost all hope they might revert
and now fondly pity them
they can’t escape the plot they’re in.
It will survive the fall, the slug, its boneless
body made for shady carelessness.
For now we’re content together
the traveller and the stay-at-homes.
by John Powell
Lying coiled in the sun, the snake encircles the car-park,
all venom drawn, the figures two metres apart.
On whichever track – pavement or path –
the points are switched, they safely pass.
Cars lie hauled up on the kerbs – all voyaging ceased –
forbidden the sea by government decree.
“Keep in good health” – the Commonwealth’s
supporters at Naseby cry – “Keep well”.
Distanced grandkids appear on a screen,
they watch Playschool, Le Tour and Mr. Bean.
Out in the middle of town – mid-week – midday,
two or three ghosts slide eerily away.
With on-line receipt safely holstered, he walks to the store,
waits patiently outside the firmly closed door
for a tin of paint, passed out by a masked outlaw.
No advert for Coors or the Western Daily Press,
but a neon tribute to the NHS.
These days gone by
by Janet McClean
(These days gone by is a modern translation of the phrase Auld lang syne)
I lost it, a cheap cup with stencilled pink flowers but the perfect shape, weight, and fineness of rim for that first cup of coffee. Now I worry if refusing to believe it’s gone means I’m like those people refusing to believe in a killer virus carried on the breath, to stop the breath. Those self-same people who believe in the virgin birth.
In lock-down the benefits of our exclusion flourish in a green-rich spring. Bird songs crescendo as early morning light prises its way through our bedroom blinds. Bees thrum a-plenty, Facebook shows the air in Delhi transformed, transparent, translucent in the sun and huge delicate jelly fish pulsing fearlessly through glass-clear Venetian canals.
I watch in high definition as sainted hospital workers remove masks from creased and bruised faces and I want to cradle their heads gently in my hands. But instead watch Red Arrows, colour rainbows and clap self-consciously. How glad I am you died last year mum before this virus came to purge.
I found the cup of course. I sip from it as if taking communion and intone a gentle prayer, ‘we’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet’ for these days going by.
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Lockdown
by Peter O’Grady
Will be the first
To crack, while
Carry on as normal
But both will feel
Loss of place
Email, message, tweet, FB, Zoom, Skype, blog
or just plain phone.
Staying in – the way to serve our neighbours
Distant greetings – the way to cheer our neighbours
of the ordinary
is the readily available therapy
All those distant smiles add up
to a distant hug that
says the same thing
as you were thinking
about the distance between us.
That couple who waved
were helping us
to remember that
this strange situation
still includes them.
It’s when you forget what day it is
that you realise that sometimes
what day it is doesn’t really matter.
The trick is to find a way to give
some days a purpose of their own.
The idea of days with names
will then retain its usefulness,
ready for when it’s time to re-set
the schedule for what comes next,
the way to keep the week STRONG.
the ordinary can take us into
a plain schedule for the day.
It lets time relax a little,
removes the tick-tocking,
so the next thing to do
is just the next thing to do.
Facebook seems less bitter,
though we can always
blame the government,
think we won despite them
forgetting the government
is us in agency, struggling
to be responsible, responsive,
despite our inadequacies.
There is a developing etiquette
to help us engage and disengage
in orderly Zoom-ed formation –
the demise of individual halloes
with extended small talk,
the missing body language and
goodbyes stunted by host override,
as we relearn the old discipline
to speak only when spoken to…
In Zoom, we clearly see
who can compress sense
to fit the medium, and those
who just don’t bother.
Statistical comparisons upset
Our cherished notions
Of what makes a nation great
Do we measure up?
What way will truth fall?
afterwards we’ll see
what it was that lasted
and wonder what it was
we were so fussed about
before all this started.
There’s an interesting new game to play
which swings from light to dark.
The light imagines how possible
it is to change the way we are.
The dark threatens the probable,
that we return to how we were.