By Pen Kease
Don’t Panic, she said.
You still have it – time –
minutiae of minutes –
You won’t waste it now –
on what he said, what she said,
what they think of you.
You are just yourself,
formed by accidental roots –
a new universe.
You might feel as though
everything’s lost, but hermits
know more than the world.
There’s half a disc of tissue-paper moon,
garlic in the kitchen, and freshly baked bread
umbrellas perched over delicate lettuce
because of nearly Mediterranean suns.
There’s deep shade over the roses
and red kites skim the silent air.
One day we will emerge blinking,
and on that day, we will count our dead.
Making Sourdough Bread in Lockdown
when mother’s scent is sharpest
feed it flour and water
find a sunny place for it to grow.
This dough is ragged, sticky
until its stretched and folded, pressed
a hundred times to ancient rhythms
until, like a sleepy newborn
warm and delicate, softly scented
weighted in slumber to rest
it grows flabby by morning
bloated, wobbles like a jelly
until pressed, rested again.
Test the prove with a finger
feel the ankle oedema – they say
the fingerprint must partly recover.
Scalpel-cut its skin
against a rupture when the dough
billows at the oven’s scorching heat.
We must believe the yeast does not care
and that we do not make our bread
at the desecration of life.
Pen Kease’s poems have been published in a range of literary magazines and websites.
She also holds an MA in Writing from the University of Warwick.
My poems were as a direct response to the silence of the lockdown, the cessation of busyness and the sudden realisation that the things that mattered hundreds or thousands of years ago still matter to this day.
We can’t fool ourselves any more. We are mortal.
It was a coming-to-terms-with-it-all, a discovery of compassion, a re-joining of the human race which has, historically, always suffered plagues. Baking sourdough and writing poems were two things humans have always done.