Tuesday Poem: The Seven Stations of Isolation

First there was eating:
I ate as though the shops would still be open tomorrow
and the day after.
I ate a whole tin of tuna in one go
poured Baileys in my coffee
opened the box of shortbread I’d been keeping
for an ‘occasion’
and ate it all in 2 days.

Secondly there was sloth:
a large mammal in pyjamas
that transferred itself slowly from bed to sofa
to the fridge and back, on a loop.
Its hair grew down into its eyes
and its thoughts were like the fog
that blurs the horizon in the morning.

This was followed by up-skilling:
video conferencing, learning Japanese,
baking opera cakes and brioche,
making masks from T-shirts.

I had not expected the dreams:
as frantic as reality,
colossal, multi-coloured.
They burned through the brain
in the viral desert of the bed.

Then there was temperature taking:
and cough analysis
and learning the 111 website by heart.

We were allowed walking and I walked with rage and grief
for the bodies in refrigerated trucks
for the medics without gowns or masks
for the ministers in their safe houses
and I breathed all the oxygen I could from the spring air
and I wept for those who had none.

Finally there was loneliness
the ache in the bone for the touch
of human skin
for a voice that is not your own.

© Kathleen Jones

I'm 7 weeks into solitary confinement because of the dreaded Covid 19. Apart from a daily walk across to my allotment and Zoom meetings with my children, I have very little social contact. As a writer I'm used to my own company, so faring better than some. But I'm acutely aware of the implications for others - we're all living with anxiety levels off the planet, and some of us have lost family and friends. Many of us are also feeling outrage, at what we see as a disregard for the safety and well-being of others by our governments. It feels as though there is no certain future. We're all hoping we come through it and can be reunited with the people we love. 


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