Corona Days


The year 2020, like 1066 and 1914, will be forever remembered for one thing only. If I survive till 2021 I’ll note it in my diary as a year of horrors; neither I nor my family have yet got Covid but there have been various disasters in my circle and some of my friends have died. But, as someone said to Wilfred Owen when he was returning to the front, at least your experiences should be good for your poetry! Literally thousands of poems have been and are being written about the plague and the lockdown. CORONAVERSES, edited by Janine Booth and published by Roundhead Publications, is an anthology by forty-three poets which came out as early as April. And WRITE WHERE WE ARE NOW, the creation of Carol Ann Duffy and Manchester Metropolitan University, is an online anthology which includes some marvellous work. Shoestring Press will be bringing out its own anthology, LOCKDOWN AND AFTER, next spring, and I’m currently reading poems for that. The one which follows is one which I wrote in March, just before the lockdown, inspired by a walk along Oxford Canal where we are not now encouraged to go:


Corona days, trudging along the silent towpath

by the canal, wishing that it was the sea,

each day I hear, singing along the airwaves,

fresh news of death, divorce, disability.

How distant now the days when I was battling

three months ago, to set the world to rights.

Now, every trivial move must be considered.

I gasp for sea air. I envy the red kites

who wheel above us, back from near-extinction,

enraptured, each day feasting on roadkill.

Celandines, crowsfoot fringe the path where few now

step out, spring colours, radiant and cruel.

3 Replies to “Corona Days”

  1. Hello Merryn

    I enjoyed reading your poem. How often do we return to nature for balance and reflection?

    As to our experiences being good for poetry, I have found the pandemic a mixed blessing. I wrote some half-decent pieces through April and May into June, mostly with political intent – something I’d not previously managed to any effect. While that was pleasing, their context is transient (we hope!). Since then, however, my writing has been frozen by the enormity of what is happening; it seems a trivial activity.

    There is one poem that may have some greater longevity:

    Outside Within

    In sanctuary of an unlatched porch
    I’ve laid my cycle down.
    The door is thick-strong oak:
    long hinges brace nail-studded beams,
    an iron ring for handle.
    I test the turn of it.
    But, bolted against contagion,
    there’s no communion to be had;
    the dancing pools of stained glass light
    unreachable within.

    Back home yet looking out,
    we step around ourselves, measure
    the degrees of separation –
    two-metre arms outstretched.
    Blessed are those with wings:
    a far-wandering Brimstone settles,
    briefly matches the budding leaves.
    First of the year, it knows
    the secret of distance:
    that it’s how we become grown-up.

    It has been published on-line (in the Portsmouth Poetry ‘CoronaVerses’ competition) but if a) that doesn’t rule it out and b) you’re still reading for the ‘Lockdown and After’ anthology, I’d love it to be a late consideration.

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