A Distant Memory

By Eleanor Fry

A distant memory, so it seems:
Supporters spurring on their teams,
The rush hour crowds, a warm embrace,
All vanished. Gone, without a trace.

It started first with headlines bleak,
Through censored states, the stories leaked.
The death toll rising far from home,
As travellers still dared to roam.

Some weeks did pass where little changed,
No plans were shifted, rearranged.
The lovers kissed. The bells did ring.
The horses raced. The choirs did sing.

***

Then suddenly, a penny dropped.
From overseas the flights were stopped.
The edicts, once in far flung lands,
Were here. They told us: wash your hands.

Where next? An ugly sight appeared:
The stocks were piled, and shelves were cleared.
Instead of helping those in need,
A manic fervour fuelled our greed.

As each day dawned, more guidance came:
Not keeping distance was to blame.
The taps dried up. The inns were closed.
A painful jolt. The markets froze.

For some, instructions were not clear
And broadcast footage stoked up fear
Of masses walking in the sun
Of others talking, having fun

Whilst others suffered. Others dead.
Doctors pleaded: give us beds.
So that was it. Consensus reached.
“Please stay at home,” the leaders preached.

***

Now sounds of silence fills the streets,
Where once the paths of life would meet.
No chance encounters we shall see,
At least, until, we are set free.

At night we peer at silhouettes
Of people we have never met,
And wonder if they are alone,
Imprisoned. Caged within their home.

A ray of hope: the street applauds!
We offer but a small reward
For those who work both day and night
To wage the war and win the fight.

***

And yet, could things not be so bleak?
If neighbours for the first time speak.
At last we find we have the time
To think, to write, to draw, to rhyme.

Perhaps – quite soon – a loved one’s touch,
That months before seemed little much,
Can soon be treasured as a gift,
When finally, this mist does lift.

Fear will subside, and panic slow,
As each of us begins to know:
What truly matters in the end
And count our blessings whilst we mend.

Eleanor Fry: I wrote this poem a few weeks into the lockdown, in an attempt to make sense of situation but also offer people hope for the future.

A Distant Memory was featured on BBC Radio in April 2020.

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