Faces in the darkness

I try and make out

Faces in the darkness

The ones we’ve lost

They haunt my sleep

But they aren’t there

I toss, I turn

There is no peace

We struggle on

Beneath the creep

Of slow guilt

Of relentless pain

Of all those we lost

For no reason we can easily explain

I drift through the house

Worried about flour and soap

There’s a world out there

Where there’s little hope

I can’t seem to grasp

The enormity

Of a world that shut down

In a kind of uniformity

We are one together

Yet hopelessly divided

Fed and unfed

Those home schooled

and those denied it

I must be contributing

In ways I don’t know

To this division of lock down

Into those who have

And those who have no

I sit in the bath

Crying fake tears

Because the ones that I love

Are safe and held dear

What do I know of the grief and the pain

I sat here through lockdown

Slightly worse when it rained

I look into the darkness

In the dead of night

Try to make out there faces

Understand their plight

But it eludes me and

Shames me

It stands just out of sight

I am very lucky

But it does not sit right

 

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A different day

Here we are
In that moment
Where what matters
Is your ability
To distil
The past from the present
To recognise what is gone
And what is here
To understand
Change
All change
Is not about what goes on in your head
You can’t wake up tomorrow
Full of positivity
And turn it back
You need to glance into the sun
Squint your eyes
And see the world ahead
Because what was yesterday
Is gone
Buried and dead
All the days merge into one
Time is spinning around us
Like a vortex
There are things going on
Outside, inside
That no one can see
The hours toss and turn
The minutes spurn us
As they linger here
And here it is
Later than it should be
Earlier than it could be
Skipping forward
Whilst we try and pedal back
But the past is gone
We didn’t even close our eyes
We only looked away
It ran off
Left us here
And we have to find
A pathway forward
To a different day

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The gilded lights of the golden age

To the gilded lights
Of the golden age
We miss you now
Now you’ve gone away

To every change
A silver lining
Life goes on
Despite the dying

Maybe its obscured
And we can’t see it yet
But the world it changed
And we must not regret

When things were plenty
And life was fun
The time we spent
Living in the sun

That time is over now
That course is run
Life moved on
Its said and done

The sun still shines
I cower in the light
I welcome change
From day to night

Because change
Change is all this really is
My heart beats on
I choose to live

Toilets, bears and men in chalk

I am worried!

About all the wrong things.

I am worried about stuff…

Like public toilets.
I had a dream last night
They were,
Devolving
Is that the word?
Back to old wooden things
Long drops
And the like
It was probably a metaphor.
I do not consider toilets,
To be my favourite public space
Although I recognise their importance

Still I worry

They are all idle now
Those toilets!
Are they all congregating in the park without us
Is every toilet uprooted somehow
And heading for the gates
Is this the moment all public toilets abandon us
Is there mothership, even now
Collecting them from parks all over the world

I need to remain calm

I am also worried about men covered in white chalk
They appear at my window in my dreams
Can you even get white chalk?
Right now
Wouldn’t paint be better?
How much chalk do you need to cover yourself?
I tell myself I will not google white chalk.
Just in case there’s an image of a man,
Covered, and I cannot unsee it

Lockdown isn’t easy

And finally bears
I have always been worried by bears
I am concerned they are now going to start roaming free
In London
Perhaps they have come here on the planes from Berlin
Which I am sure has bears
Roaming free!
Right now!
Perhaps they are on the tube as I write this
It hits me like a ton of

Bricks

I have landed in the middle classes
Where these are the sum total of my concerns
Somewhere out there is horror and poverty and bravery
While I play Lolly Willowes
In pyjamas as if I can’t dress myself
I want to be useful
But I don’t know how
I am scared
Yoga keeps me calm
But I can’t help thinking

Shouldn’t this be a time for quiet

RAGE

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Melt

 

I am writing this down because we are near the end. I can feel the sun beating down on us. There is not much time left. Was the sun worth it? No. We should have listened to our mother.

We spent the summers sitting in our freezer. All three of us. Every summer. It was a big white square thing that we climbed into in the early dawn. Mum kept it on all the time. We sat in the big ice box and ‘chilled’ all day. We had pencils and books that were endlessly soggy from the melt. The freezer was propped open so we could breathe. Mum struggled to breathe in it but we never had a problem.

We were mostly home schooled. We moved a lot in the early years. Winters weren’t so bad. We sometimes went to a local school for all of autumn and all of winter. It depended on the climate. Mum didn’t like the heat. Didn’t want us out in the sun. Ever. We never left the house in the summer. We just sat in the freezer all day. Every day. I liked the cold. I felt like it held me together. I was right. My little brother was the same.

I am writing this down because Mum wanted there to be a record. She kept telling us it’s important there’s a record. But I never saw her document anything. There never seemed to be any paperwork when she needed it. She always seemed cold in the freezer, as if she was different from us. I think sometimes she wanted the sun maybe, even though she said she didn’t. I don’t think she loved the freezer. She did it for our benefit, at least she thought that was the reason she was doing it.

It wasn’t a normal upbringing. The windows were covered. We stayed away from the light. There had been an older brother. Mum always talked about how he had gone outside and melted in the sun. Neither of us were ever able to figure out what had actually happened. We knew she was a bit odd. We did ok. We always felt loved, even if that love was a bit overprotective and paranoid.

I don’t remember social services ever coming around. I remember an aunt. Mum spent a lot of time researching climate change when she wasn’t looking after us or schooling us. We had a lot of stuff about it around the house. She was worried about the temperature rise. She talked to us, told us what we had to do. How to survive. I think she thought it was impossible but she wanted us to try.

We thought it was ok. We knew it wasn’t normal, the books told us that but we thought it was ok.

Then Mum got ill. It was autumn. She refused all medical help. Then she got more ill. Eventually that aunt came and nursed her through the final days. It was the end of winter by then. I don’t think the aunt knew what to do with us. She would peer into the freezer and wonder. She talked of another aunt who might take us. Life seemed empty, beyond our comprehension. Mostly both of us just felt numb I think. We felt nothing on the inside. It sounds like we were cold but I honestly thought we would be fine, so long as we could stay together. We knew nothing of the world. We only had each other and our determination.

It is summer now, here today, the day we are to leave this house. I think I should feel more something but its like I am made of ice. I feel nothing. Mum is gone. The freezer unplugged and useless in the kitchen. We are to go into the sunshine. We have never before stood outside in the sunshine. Mum had always warned us against it. I sat down to write this. Outside. On the steps. In the sun. But it feels so warm as if it could-

Part 2

When I arrived, there it was on the porch. None of us had ever believed Elsie. But there beside two little brown suitcases was the evidence. Irrefutable. Two pools of vanilla sludge, melding together at the edge. She always said her children were made of ice cream and when they went out into the sun, they would melt. We looked and looked but there was no evidence that they ever existed in any other way. They had gone out into the sun of their own accord. They had simply melted away.

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Sunscreen: Super smooth

There is death here
But then there has always been
Except now you can very nearly
Although not quite

Smell it on the wind

I’m sitting this one out
In the middle classes
In a green and pleasant land
And not a shabby urban flat

There’s a garden and some rooms

The birds still sing
The grass still grows
We are fucking irrelevant
And we didn’t even know

I mean I guess we did but

We never really thought about it
I mean I certainly knew
That we just don’t matter
I’d simply forgotten

That nature is deadly

I soothe myself with
Documentaries,
About nature
Knowing that

It is the bastard responsible

In the middle of it all
I play guitar quite badly
I buy myself a new notebook
So I can write earnest words

As if I am truly at risk and suffering

I am worried
We are running low on crisps
And biscuits
It is keeping me awake at night

I now look at my expensive hand bag, differently

Or at least one day I will
I went to the supermarket
And I think that makes me brave
I don’t get my groceries delivered

Like some

Although there is the milk
I am positively a saint
I waste toilet paper
Which to us in the middle classes

Is the ultimate sign

Of our superiority
These days.
Didn’t I make good choices?
I understand viral load too

This virus is the great equaliser

I can’t say it enough
There is no dust here
Except the bits I haven’t cleaned myself
But I will clean

Right after my online yoga class

And the heat
Comes from the central heating
And the extra sweater I bought
Just before this thing broke

I will reduce my sweater buying habits

Because I don’t understand supply chains
And I am not hungry
Dear God, I am clever
It is proving I am more equal than you

Somewhere there in the darkness, there is a light

Because I can afford to pay for it
I have missed the lesson
I did not hear it
It is not this virus that will equalise

But it might be the next, or the one after that

I look at my stockpile of sunscreen
One day I will die from something horrible
In the comfort of an A and E ward
Surrounded by bravery I cannot imagine

And my skin will be super smooth

The Door

No one goes out
No one comes in
I look at the door
No one is coming to the door
It is rendered useless now

Purposeless

I worry about the door

I look at it each morning
I wonder if it knows
Doors are not sentient
I whisper that
Quietly to myself

The door is unmoved

Literally

It has not moved to open in days
I have started saying hello to it
To wonder if the whole thing
Is some kind of,
Some kind of front door conspiracy

The front doors of the world just wanted

Rest

I am starting a door appreciation society
Because it can’t hurt
Because maybe it’s the cause
Because it might help us at all
Because I want to do my bit

I have been in this house inside

Too long

Yet the door is there
It remains resolute
It neither opens nor closes
It just remains shut
Like a shut thing

Tall and proud and

Shut

I touch the handle
Some mornings I kiss the glass
Some mornings I rage against its
Steadfastness
The door remains unmoved

It does not express any emotion

Shut

Meanwhile our house has a regime
Of post-it notes
Of rules we neither agreed
Nor can be bothered adhering to
At the end we will tear them all down

But not the door, we will leave

The door

The door is not a post-it note
I speak out loud to the door now
In the darkness and in the light
‘I promise we will use you again’
There will be an end.

The door remains

Motionless

All those deliveries
The days I carelessly flung it open
I fiddled with the keys in the lock
I opened it just a crack
Leaned against it to chat

I miss those days

Door

I stare at it, shut
I wonder if I shouldn’t get the axe
And bash it down
Even though I have a key
And we don’t own an axe

It is not the fault of the door, the door is

Blameless

I need to make my peace with the door
I sit before it and speak
Words of soothing and calm
I do not blame the door
It is keeping us safe

It is then I spy the shoes

The shoes

I turn my attention to the shoes
All of them in a row,
Sitting there unused.

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Just People

I look at my to-do list

And its just people

A list of names.

I have not been on the train for two weeks
I did not go to the supermarket this morning
Right now, the washing seems beyond me

I stare at the list

Its just people

A list of names, to contact

I stayed up half the night
On a video call
We talked about a Zumba class
I will not leave my house for Zumba

The to-do list

It’s right there beside me

Its just peoples names

Each one a twinkle of light in the darkness
Will any of those twinkles go out
I am having coffee without cake
I have given up cake
It makes me feel like I am in control

Its like my list is living, breathing

Beside me

I look at it again

My weekend to do list
The ordinary one that I do every weekend
I have not cleaned her school shoes
Although I went to school with her
Everyday this week
I did a meeting in my dressing gown
But the extraordinary thing is still the list

The list, the to-do list

Its people

Its just people

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Nothing lasts forever

Nothing lasts forever
Words echo in my head
There was a time before
Without this sense of dread

But it up and disappeared
Right before my eyes
The world changed in front of me
Like it had been wearing a disguise

I thought this bit would pass
This bit here today
Turns out it was the time before
That up and went away

We were left with our platitudes
Be positive, be true
These meant mostly nothing
When Nature turned her screw

And so now we stand here naked
Our world it is stripped bare
You ask me where we’re going
I guess we’re going there

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Invisible

She passes through a door
One that is not held open
She sidles past everyone
Takes a table in the corner
She sits there for hours
And no one notices
It’s one of her superpowers
Something only menopausal woman can do

Spurned

She flushes blue,
Then red and then grey
Taps on the table
No one sees
She types on the lap top
Words of alacrity
That no one ever reads

Glorious

Its poetry
But without the rhyme
The cappuccino she orders
It never arrives
She pays anyway
Someone will profit
She can afford it
A fiver in the tip jar
No one even saw it

Salubrious

In between it all
She sips on a coffee
That is not hers
She takes it from the table
Of the man sitting to the side
He seems endlessly puzzled
Why his coffee is shrinking
He frowns, he gesticulates,
Spreads his legs
Keeps on drinking

Ostentatious

She forgets about pace
If life is a race
She has crossed the finish line
Later on she slips between tables
Through the crowded café
Her hand slips in and out of bags
Wraps itself in scarves
That belong to someone else
No one seems to see her
This is what life is like on the shelf

Perplexing

But there is pleasure
And there is freedom
In being nothing anymore
She hovers in the corner
Takes her clothes off
Drops them on the floor

Egregious

She stands resolute,
Naked and free
She walks through the café
She bumps and she sways
She lets it all hang out
As she wanders away

Gregarious

She has earned her nakedness,
Found out her truth
She walks to the station,
Gets onto the train
Splays her legs open wide
No one says a word
She lives in a world
Where voices are blurred

Salacious

Triumphant, victorious
She walks on home
The joy of just being her
was simply hers to own
No longer judged on how she looks,
What she wore
She laughs til she cries
As she walks through her door.

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