By Carol Harte
Is it you?
Is it you I see framed by the silver screen?
Your face is almost real, touchable – reach out and you’re glass.
Your voice resonates through speakers, dancing steps ahead of your mouth.
I focus on your lips – words jar, like a drunk making sense of sobriety.
Most of your face is visible – I can zoom in on your nostrils.
Too many pimples dear – eat fruit.
Your hair is escaping out of the box – does it exist if I can’t see it?
I place my hand on yours, feel the warmth and pretend it’s life.
Hugging technology comes naturally now.
My square sits at your shoulder, like a conscience.
I smile and show teeth yellowed by wifi.
I chose my clothes carefully, wanting to look attractive,
but there’s no button for that chemical link.
The thing I miss most is your smell:
sandalwood, mown grass, sweat.
That can’t be sent down the line.
Maybe next year?
I deliver her shopping daily,
basics to sustain her elderly frame.
She asks for cakes, I offer vegetables at the altar of agedness.
She waves a bony hand as I pass her window.
Lost weight has rendered her a ghost, translucent,
except for the purple patches where she’s been bruised by life.
I ring her bell – formalities are kept. Her park home is her castle.
The list for next week is exchanged: bread, cakes, the usual.
Life summed up through food.
But suddenly those items don’t need delivering.
Carol Harte writes poetry inspired by her involvement in her local literature festival, Weaver Words, and her local writing group. She taught English at a 6th form college and in secondary schools for over thirty years but has recently retired. She has had poems published in The Dawntreader, Acumen and Marble poetry magazines; she did a reading in Cardiff for Marble, along with other published poets. She recently had a poem chosen for inclusion in the WRITE OUT LOUD competition anthology of chosen work, Beyond the storm, a collection published to raise money for NHS charities.
“Shopping” was prompted through her experience of living in small village during the first months of lockdown, when elderly residents needed support. The harshness of the poem reflects the shocking reality of shielding for many people.
“Is it you?” “Is it you?” was inspired by a combination of endless zoom quizzes, where she tired of looking at herself in the far-right corner of the screen, and a chance remark made by her eldest son about the difficulties of dating in lockdown.