By Hélène Demetriades
It’s as if the sun had spawned
under our apple tree
and now a million little celandines
strain their star-shaped faces skywards.
Bare trees plug into blue
their bronchioles unobstructed;
buds are sprouting,
some already unwrap the resurrection.
Soon leafed trees will take their first breath,
exhale, spring clean the Earth;
and I think of my human family,
taking in a deep breath
while others gasp behind a mask,
some sucked to a quiet beyond breath.
We sit on the sofa – our boat without oars
rocking on the waters of lockdown.
We’re watching Normal People.
It’s an Irish seascape, Streedagh Point,
waves quenching against a flat-bellied shore.
I stir with Marianne and Connell,
their young bodies’ unabashed need
for the other, the stomach wrench,
the tearing apart.
I sit on the sofa in middle-age,
self-contained, my daughter, sixteen,
sits in the boat, witnessing, she
unable for now to move out in the world.
Hélène is practising psychotherapist and poet living in South Devon. She has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. She was highly commended by poet Patience Agbabi in the Marsden The Poetry Village Competition 2019.
I wrote the two poems at home in Dartington, South Devon. The first ‘Breath’, just before Easter. After six months of what seemed like interminable rain, the sun was out and Spring was here, just as we as a country had gone into lockdown. Writing this poem helped me to be with the striking polarities expressed at that time – space/suffocation, quiet/chaos, springtime/lockdown.
The second poem was written as my small family, myself, my husband and daughter were watching the TV series ‘Ordinary People’ about a young couple’s intense love affair, while we were in full lockdown in May. Having had her GCSEs and all other activities cancelled, my daughter was in limbo, not able to move out in the world with the budding energy of a sixteen year old. Writing this poem allowed me some space around the sadness I felt for her.