Poem

Ellen van Neerven
social isolation is an act of love

we scroll the news

trying to figure out what’s to come

looking at measures placed on other countries

 

school closures

city lockdowns

individual freedoms we give up

 

where will we be a day from now

a week, a month

six months from now?

 

projections made onto bodies

hearts in mouths

we worry ourselves sick

 

looking outside ourselves

time to look within

go inside

 

we scrutinise the house

what’s not on our shelves

counting what we have left

 

with fresh eyes

we see shelter-in-place

it’s time to make a home

 

clean and mend what we have

make warm and special

it’s the only place we’ve got

 

rearrange the spice rack

tea cupboard

sock drawer

 

maybe find something

we thought we lost

retrieved from a locked place

 

pick up that book

finish that puzzle

rekindle an old thought

 

bake a cake

pick up a paintbrush, pencil or needle

rewire the self

 

host freshly picked flowers

light a candle

put on a favourite record

 

it’s okay to grieve

               2020

it’s not what we expected

 

ring friends and kin living alone

check in

with our voice

 

no mass gatherings at funerals

we send digital messages to the bereaved

the absence of ceremony hurts

 

the dog needs to be walked

we shuffle outside

there is no one about

 

butterflies surround us

the world shuts down borders

the birds carry on as usual

 

the world is a physical place

social distancing is hard

the virus is a living thing

 

it weaves separation

Dr Suan says to isolate is not an act of fear

it’s an act of love

 

how will we be in lockdown

will we sing like the Italians

cheer for front-line workers like the Spanish?

 

love our Elders

nurture affective relations

share our pasta

Ellen van Neerven
is a Mununjali Yugambeh writer and the author of Heat and Light and Comfort Food. Their new collection of poetry, Throat, will be published in May.

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