By Sarah J Bryson
the children at home, taught – or not by parents
on Google and Zoom while missing their friends
the homeowners furloughed, plagued by the weight
of mortgages their own – plus those of off-spring
whose lives are on hold, their jobs insecure, the fear
of the future a looming unknown unknown
while the front-line workers spend their lives gowned
and masked with new rules, new ways of working.
Look, here is the nurse-turned-gatekeeper, hands in blue gloves
her eyes trying to compensate for her hidden face
telling the woman that she can’t come back
to see her dad, that she can’t bring in the children
to say their final goodbyes
Sarah is a writer, nurse and amateur photographer. She is interested in words, words for wellbeing, people and nature – and the connections between these aspects of her life.
I am a nurse, and during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic up until a few weeks ago the hospice where I work became a Covid-19 admission unit. We extended what we could offer, turning office spaces and the chapel into nursing areas with beds and lockers brought in my the army… this entailed some massive reorganisations of rooms, equipment and ways of working. Then nurses from other walks of life were drafted in to help us while their own areas of work were temporarily halted.
The experience was all at once surreal and real. Many of the rules and regulations we were asked to enforce at work went against the grain of what our usual philosophy would be, and this was difficult at times. Also many of us were simultaneously trying to do what we could at work, doing more hours than usual in these unusual circumstances, for example, while also trying to protect our home life and families from the impact of the infection. The poem is based on several experiences, rolled into one.