By Jan Porteous
First it was loo rolls and panic buying,
As customers queued, tutting and sighing.
Shelves stripped of hand gel, no pasta in sight
Trollies at dawn, some willing to fight.
We saw the numbers, steadily rising
In lands far away, people surmising.
Loved ones taken by the COVID beast
Of old and young having its feast.
Then lockdown came, in all its glory
Social distancing was now the story.
Two metres apart, the needed space
But shielding for many meant home was the place.
Schools shut down but still played a role
As the virus rampaged, taking its toll.
Prince Charles and Boris were both afflicted
Thousands furloughed, who could have predicted?
From those near and dear, we had to stay far
No taking the bus, no sharing the car.
No sport to enjoy, not even on telly
Too much wine and a fattening belly.
Zoom parties galore, but it’s just not the same
When doing a quiz or playing a game.
Hugs and cuddles were what we missed
So many people longed to be kissed.
Loneliness seeped in as we suffered isolation
TV and Netflix were small consolation.
We struggled to understand so many laws
Spending time gardening and doing jigsaws.
Cleaning the house, always such a hassle
But the place to be was NOT Barnard Castle!
Figures to show the R number and rate
Left us all in a confounded state.
Time to reflect and time to take stock
As doctors and nurses worked round the clock.
Clapping for carers, the least they deserve
We waited and prayed for a flattening curve.
A wave from the postman, a heart-warming treat
Chats with neighbours across the street.
In schools, shops and care homes, slogging away
Just some of our heroes of the day.
Five o’clock briefings, any good news?
On PPE we’ve listened to views.
We’re truly grateful to our NHS
For all that they do, under all that stress.
We watched the efforts of Captain Tom Moore
Walking each day and keeping the score.
Now Colonel and knighted, he has touched our hearts
And he made number 1 with his song in the charts.
Slowly restrictions have relaxed and eased
Pubs have re-opened and many are pleased.
Friends into gardens are being invited
Grandparents with family are reunited.
Now we’re instructed to don a mask
Shopping’s become a less easy task.
Reactions compliant or polemic
All a result of this persistent pandemic.
Meanwhile, the aim is tracking and tracing
And for a vaccine the experts are racing.
We know too well what all this has cost
We light our candles for loved ones lost.
So, let us hope for virus-free nations
And dream the joy of celebrations.
The future now we can’t foretell
But to one and all, stay safe, stay well.
Cotton-silk wisps of cloud drift by
The sky blazes boldly blue
Gone are the toxic vapours and fumes
And nature refreshes anew.
Finches and starlings, for so long unseen
Bring a chorus of hopeful song
Intoxicating perfume of bluebells abound
Scents in the air linger long.
Clear, diamond drops of rain on leaves
Crystal chandeliers in trees
Are gifts bestowed by Mother Earth
Ones that she hopes will please.
Goats feast on Welsh suburban shrubs
Deer move to a housing estate
A goose makes her nest at a station in York
These stories will educate.
The people walk, the people see
Friends on a screen; they smile
Apart yet united, they understand
How much this will be worthwhile.
Janet Porteous: I am 62 years old and I live in the North-West of England, in a town called Leigh. I am a retired teacher of Modern Languages and English, a job which I did for 33 years and which I truly loved. I started writing poetry in March this year, after joining a Creative Writing class. I have found the experience both cathartic and fulfilling.
My poem Lockdown Lessons aims to recall some of the positive and sometimes unusual impact that lockdown has had on the environment. My other poem Lockdown Litany aims to chronicle the changes that have happened since March this year.
The class which I attend each week has taken place on Zoom meetings which seemed odd at first but now feels quite normal. It has been a huge comfort to me to meet with my new friends each week, albeit in the virtual world, to catch up with them and to share our writing. A new weekly assignment from our teacher has given us all a fresh focus to concentrate on and has been a welcome source of creative pursuit. Being able to write has genuinely helped me through lockdown.