By Jenny Robb
Unseasonable Spring Days for the Fortunate
Trapped within brick and glass day after day,
allowed out to walk once a day,
each day, blue sky, bright sun.
We say, At least the weather is good, imagine if every day
was wet, how much worse would it be?
We rejoice in the blueness of days,
the hope of newly unfurling leaves,
the warmth, once a day, of sun on our skin,
breathing in light, exhaling fear.
Sometimes a day is punctuated by wind.
We welcome this mood music; enjoy, once a day
gusts gathering dust and dandelion-clocks,
chasing house smells away from our hair.
But forty days and forty nights and still no rain
we start to think.
Our skin burns dry.
Each day becomes a boredom of blue.
Some days, an occasional vapour-trail excites our eyes,
breaks the tedious Ground Hog Day skies.
As the dead reach hundreds of thousands,
we toss in our beds, hot,
dreaming of a cold refreshment of rain;
wake up to blue skies with a sigh of resignation.
Summer begins and those alive in ’76 reminisce:
Remember the plague of ladybirds,
Mersey Ferry deck rails crusted red and black,
pavements crunching under our feet?
Remember pubs running out of beer,
fields parched brown and water rationed?
We smile, distracted from days
of lockdown-ease, crowds on beaches,
fears of unseen infection, lurking.
The Three Sisters
One early summer day, the weather turns.
Duvets, coats and rain return.
Puddles ripple as shoes trudge our daily walk.
In Holt’s Field my fingers welcome tingles of cold.
Briefly wind clears the sky.
I look down the slope to three Silver Beech sisters.
Their slender trunks throw a maze of branches
to the sky; wind and sun play in their embrace,
flapping leaves into silver butterflies caught in a net of twigs.
The sisters shake and shimmy. Before my eyes, an oasis
of shine escapes the net and flies impossibly high.
Cloudy eyes drink muted colours:
his canvas glows pearlescent.
Shapes appear in fogged water:
boats trading in a murky river.
Pluming towers soot sky,
whitely patched above Waterloo.
No golden, youthful Mediterranean.
London light cataracts life
in ochered tones amidst grey.
Victorious Waterloo forgotten,
this spectral bridge
Note: This ekphrastic poem is based on my response to The Thames above Waterloo Bridge by J. M. Turner
The first one was written when lockdown was at its most severe. Me and my partner live in Liverpool but are lucky to have some fields nearby where we could escape for our daily walk. The poem is an attempt to distil some of the thoughts , feelings and conversations we had during this strange and distressing time. The repetition of the word day signifies the tedium of this time despite the weird displacement of our every day life.
The second poem describes trees that caught my attention – seeing them was almost hallucinatory in its intensity and made me feel happy and hopeful for a few moments.
The third poem is ekphrastic and much more gloomy – it reflects the despair I have felt and was written in lockdown although is not explicitly about the pandemic.
Writing poetry during the pandemic has been a way of processing my reactions to these distressing times and also a welcome distraction. Via Zoom open mics I have connected with poets all over the UK and further afield, something that wouldn’t have happened normally.