First poem in a long time

On borrowing my mother’s swimsuit – Suffolk, 2021

O warbler, calling from the soft
and sodden marsh, tell me it’s not true
that even newly blubbered I cannot fit
neat as a cherry pit in this
blue and yellow flowered suit

Once thin as the reeds of the beds I was
but the lockdown put paid to that
and now I snap lycra on stretchily
over swelling boobs and even more secretly
that strip of cloth that once covered her vulva
covers mine now

the slit of my becoming
and the slit of my being
fused by this nest of cloth

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The Bellringing Poet: What’s Keeping Me Busy In Lockdown

I’ve had a lot of trouble concentrating this last period of lockdown. Whereas I wrote almost a whole book in the first lockdown, and read a library of poetry and prose, I am struggling to do anything more than doomscroll in my spare time – and sleep, which without the exercise to tire me out leads more often than not to some crazy dreams.

But I have been somewhat productive in a couple of areas. Firstly, my aunt recently became President of a charity in France called Cancer Support France – Languedoc. They aim to help those anglophones suffering in the region by providing emotional and practical support. You can find out more about them here: https://csflanguedoc.com/

CSF-L are a growing organisation and as such have a lot of processes that require documenting. With my Ops background I volunteered to help them with this project, and have had a lovely time speaking with their volunteer staff to put together some hopefully useful documents. This has saved money they might otherwise have to spend on consultants, and also allowed me to keep my hand in with some customer journey analysis.

The second area is bellringing – for those who don’t know, I am indeed an enthusiastic campanologist. As well as running regular Monday night practices on the virtual platform Ringing Room, I’ve now agreed to come on board with a Scottish Association working group looking at recovery post-Covid. It’s a broad topic and we have some specific challenges here in Scotland, but I’m very excited to work on it. More information on the Scottish Association and on bellringing can be found here: https://www.sacr.org/

A Covid Poem

The year we watched the death tolls rise

I read some books, I stayed inside

I worked from home, I watched some films

I skyped my family from the realms

of my four walls – each week we said

Thank God none of us have had it yet

I wore a mask out to the shops

I panic-bought, but not a lot

On the news an old man couldn’t buy eggs

I cried the eyes out of my head

For him and all the others shielding

Later Bake Off and Noel Fielding

Soothed my anxious brain to numbness

But still the thought that I had done less

Than I could have to help others

Kept me restless between the covers

My drinking grew steadily out of hand

Some nights, well, I could barely stand

The mornings cracked on like a whip

As I tried to forget all of it

Poems no solace, nor was sex

Yet I couldn’t say I was depressed

The fugue was blanketing but hope

Remained there like an outflung rope

I called my friends, I hugged my partner

I tried to my hardest to remember

I was lucky – I survived

The year we watched the death tolls rise.