Changes

The planes stopped flying.
The screensaver’s changed –
the sky’s a blue dome now,
no chalky scrawls,
no slashed, graffitied lines.
It’s quiet.

The neighbours parked up
days ago. They haven’t left the house
except to walk the dogs.
We call across the hedge,
use WhatsApp.

Me? I’m quieter, too.
Switched to receive. I’m drinking in
the blue, the silence,
soaking in it. Waiting for words.
It’s like my voice is trapped.

All our connections are a little thinner,
I haven’t hugged my mum
for days now. Our words
stretched out, squeezed down wires.

I’m getting scary stories,
funny pictures, angry messages,
from friends I should see every day.
We’re making links, but we can’t touch,
pat a hand, bump a shoulder,
kiss a cheek. We can’t smell
each other. All those subtle things,
we’re down to basics now,
all our connections made of ones
and zeroes.
.

Still, I can report
the sky is blue,
and the lambs wag their tails
butting their mothers’ teats
for milk. Primroses
still sit shyly in the hedgerow,
and the birds are singing.

The Earthweal challenge this week is “silver linings”. I’m not sure I should be writing at the moment. I think I should just be letting things simmer. There’s a lot going on. I struggled with the idea of silver linings – it’s hard not to just state the obvious. I’m very priveleged – I live in the countryside, so I don’t feel too trapped. The weather’s lovely, there’s lots to do in the garden. So far, this isolation is an inconvenience. I’m very aware that it’s different for lots of people, that there are people putting their lives on the line, that there are people stuck in small appartment with small children going quietly (maybe not quietly) crazy, and my heart goes out to everybody who is suffering in this.

6 thoughts on “Changes

  1. You describe the way it has to be right now very well, and we are also very glad that we live in the country. City living, or city isolation must be even more miserable with nothing pleasant to look at!

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  2. I am SO GLAD you wrote and that I got to read this poem. I feel very distracted, also. But am grateful for online connections. What I love most about your poem is that you stay “open to receive” – such an important thing – and also the lambs butting their mothers’ teats. Thank the All That Is for the hopefulness of baby lambs. On Monday I tackle self-isolating…..your gardening is a very positive activity for such times. You are engaged in growth.

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  3. Wonderfully tentative here–much is lost, much too is gained though the eye of habit is rather blind to surprises. Setting the poem in italics suggests an online conversation, a degree removed from daily plainface. An interior monologue. Our personal sufferings are personally significant though they don’t seem to scale much in the big.world events, nor do they register much in the real world. Things are too new to gauge the value of these silver linings … Thanks so for bringing it to earthweal, Sarah.

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  4. You describe the situation so well in this poem, Sarah. I agree about being privileged to live in the countryside, especially in sunny weather, and I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a tower block in a city under these conditions, but I do feel the isolation deeply during the day, when I would normally be meeting parents, children and teachers. I’m filling up my days with writing, reading and housework, with one walk in the afternoon. I also feel for people putting their lives on the line, and I know quite a few nurses and doctors in that situation. The lines I identify with:
    ‘All our connections are a little thinner,
    I haven’t hugged my mum
    for days now. Our words
    stretched out, squeezed down wires.’
    I’m the same with my daughter and grandson.

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