Maxine Beneba Clarke
generation zoom

in the third week of the pandemic


               schools started closing

workers were sent home


and they started to call the youngsters:

              generation zoom


named, of course, for that chat-app

all of them seemed to use


logging in for facetime

completing maths lessons online, dancing

tiktok feeds on loop, clicking in

to instanews, and everyone was asking:


              what on earth will become

              of whatsapp’s children?


     visiting friends

through cracked iphone glass,

and advised to stay away

              from their own mama’s arms


who weren’t allowed

to warm to touch


cause don’t you know

there’s a virus going round


     less is love, baby, less is love



from one point five

metres away


 what hope the future,

 when a whole generation

 grew up this way:


 socially distant


                and self isolated


no giggly schoolgirl notes

tucked into the pockets

              of square-checked tunics


nor the exquisite

stomach-churns you used to get

when someone you liked


              close to you


but generation zoom


they saw the neighbours

              from two doors down

put a note in their letterbox

asking if they still had food


generation zoom

streamed bitter fights

              in supermarket aisles

over toilet paper

     and baked beans



but they also saw us learn

how to grow the world, from seed


how the cities, silent

were so beautiful


how, for the first time in so long,

                   dad was home:

and he vacuumed, and

forgot to act

      like dinner was his due


and all the family

    were on the same time frame

in the same house


              defrosting bolognaise, and

bickering, and bunking in



elijah’s boyfriend

              was finally allowed to phone:

even though mum was

‘still confused about the whole gay thing’


cause don’t you know

there’s a pandemic going on


     love is love, ma, love is love


in the end

we’ll be okay

cause generation zoom 

grew up this way:


learning stocks can be lost

              as fast as accumulated


that health is wealth

and love is gold


and life



        will find a way

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of The Hate Race and Foreign Soil. She is a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.

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