By Pam Thompson
All that spring
We were closing down and closing in.
No-one had told the wood pigeons swooping
or the cherry trees that kept on flowering.
The daffodils ignored all instructions
— they were out all night, groups of them,
then the profligate bluebells
and forsythia, flagrant, sprawling.
Lads, practised their drop-kicks as though
the pitch was still a pitch and not a perimeter
for a daily prescribed walk or run.
It’s Thursday but
the days are interchangeable.
First thing, lighting
a rose and gardenia candle.
Answering the door-bell.
The postman retreating.
Today’s non-urgent parcel.
A friend on Whatsapp
asking if you want strong white flour.
The hours slide into evening.
Eight o’ clock, standing on the step
to clap the carers, and the satellite,
to the west of Venus,
lower, brighter, faster than you’d think.
the big news around here is the pop-up cycle lanes
on London Road which are designed to make us
change our habits and stop using buses in these days
of masks and gloves. Not that you want to cycle
or even walk there much. One of us has almost certainly
had it. The other might have but without symptoms
Everyone calls in with their stories. They can’t believe
where the year’s gone but for some it’s back to nearly
normal. So far, we have resisted baking bread, family
quizzes on Zoom and online Pilates. We have kept
a respectable distance from the next person is the queue
at Aldi. Sleep scientists have been picking over
our dreams – tapping into the collective unconscious.
Please don’t try to tell us what any of it means.
Pam Thompson is a writer and lecturer based in Leicester. Her publications include Show Date and Time (Smith | Doorstop, 2006) and Strange Fashion (Pindrop Press, 2017). She is a 2019 Hawthornden Fellow.
I am based in Leicester and during lockdown was only too aware that the rituals of each day, although seeming similar at the time, would, when I looked back, be distinct and very much of their time. This has proven to be the case. Reading and writing was supremely important during these months although being able to concentrate was often difficult. These poems are about distinct moments of attention that characterised that strange period.