By Gareth Culshaw
A QUICK DROP OFF AND A TWO METRE DISTANCE CHAT
We drop off the shopping with parachute hands.
Stand with neighbourly distance. Your energy
runs out of you as a child on waking up at Christmas.
Your glass eye dozes as if some of you is still asleep.
You give us photocopied money with your monopoly
fingers. I told you I bought extra tins to give next
week a rest, and us, from the arrows on supermarket
floors, and the high vis coats that point and nod
as we cattle wait outside.
I told you to walk around the block shake off the dust
that mother left behind before she went into a home.
Your hamstrings are being tightened by time’s screwdriver.
The clock grows louder with each day. A wall calendar
drips away dates you have missed with each kettle boil,
buttered sandwich, press of remote button.
The living room has become a waiting room, an in-between,
and the newspaper pages you turn, drop words
down the phone, when you ring up mother around tea-time.
A PHONE CALL BEFORE THE SUN FELL OFF THE EARTH
I spoke to you last night as I walked the dog
around two fields. My beetroot stained fingers
smudged with the horizon before the sun fell
off the earth. Drought had started to crack the land
as an egg when a chick starts to grow.
Your voice was weak against the television
that natted in your room. We talked about football,
pets, father, how terrible things were. I watched a crow
paper-aeroplane out of a cloud.
The dog sniffed at the wardrobe air. I told you
we will meet again late Summer, four months earlier
than what I know. I saw your bed palming your life
as you once did with me when I was born.
My voice laboured from the uneven ground.
Your words sounded as if on a flat-back truck
getting ready to move to the next life. We departed,
and I released the phone from my ear. Heard a robin
sing, watched the dog piss against an oak tree.
RSPB CONWY DURING COVID-19
We went today, visited a sky that shuffled clouds from its bottom draw.
Seagulls coordinated the motorway and mountains. Cars hobbled into
the car park from the zip wire of tarmac. We waited for people to distance
themselves from our breath so we could gasp our own words in pleasure.
The estuary had been pulled into the sea’s mouth. Curlews punched into sand
searched for yesterday or last millenia. Oystercatchers lit up their beaks
with their awakeness. Cormorants brought back the Jurassic showed us
what earth will become again when we die.
We walked along the paths as if they wanted us to leave. The hides locked
up, we were left to moments of hope between the gape of land and sky.
I had never seen this world as open as today. The prefrontal cortex was closed
allowing me to wander through a catalogue of thought.
Small birds fired themselves out of shrubs or hedgerows. Little Egret’s stood
in vicar coats, tried their best not to print the sand with their weight.
Coots and moorhens floated as commas in a drowned book. We walked
further into ourselves broke up the streets we have become.
I saw the sun laser the reeds. Burn into them until seeds explode out
and bring more earth to this place. Cars kept going along the shoulder height
road. People cringed their skin, held themselves tight as passing ships
in harbours, as we walked by.
We were free today. Felt closer to the birds than the birds to each other.
But the paths were empty, the marribone of humanity sucked out
of its own bones. A sense of happiness filled me as we headed back onto
the tarmac to file alongside other cars. See other faces.
Gareth lives in Wales. He has two collections of poetry and is a current student at Manchester Met. He has been published widely across the UK & USA.
The first two poems I wrote during the Lockdown. I found it very tough not seeing my parents. My mother is in a nursing home so am still to be allowed in. The third poem I wrote after we finally went out for the day to RSPB Conwy, birdwatching. It was an unreal experience with the lack of togetherness a hobby can do for people.