By Shreya Sen-Handley
Lockdown, settle in, buckle down
Now is the time to write your King Lear
Your Monte Cristo, and Three Musketeers.
Aim high, reach in, dig deep
Freefall into that ferocious place
Your heart, your gut, your molten mess
In which your mettle is made
Dredge up, cast forth, snuff out
Your self-aimed rage burning you still
Sneeringly calling your name
But they pressed, you heard, you scanned
The scrubbed-clean skies, the now fresh lakes
For your tale in the sudden quiet of lanes
Chin up, eyes wide, ears pricked
You rummaged inside and you searched out
It wasn’t there all the same. BUT THEN
On the darkest night, when doubts ran high
And your soul was consumed with shame
You opened a door that showed you the light
A blaze, an inferno, a bonfire of insight
Shone from your fridge and made plain
Not Lear, nor Cristo, ne’er D’ Artagnan
Your lockdown task was to create a flan
That would bring you Instagram fame.
Shreya Sen-Handley, award-winning author of ‘Memoirs of My Body’ and ‘Strange’, Welsh National Opera librettist, columnist for the international media, and illustrator, is currently writing her third book, a travelogue.
This poem was written in response to the pressures placed on people to be productive in this pandemic, as if they weren’t dealing with enough already! On the other hand, staying creative has also helped many of us stay sane in these troubled times. In this poem I have suggested that it is possible for each of us to be productive/creative in our own way, at our own pace, which is essential for mental health, within the pandemic and without. This is reflected in the form of the poem as well, in that it is a song. I am a librettist and this is what came naturally. It is also an example of bathos, reinforcing my message to take it easy, do your own thing, and laugh at life where possible.
Note: Epiflany was published in ‘Hibiscus; Poems that Heal and Empower’, an anthology of poems featuring the likes of eminent Indian poet Keki N. Daruwalla, by Indian publisher Hawakal Publishers earlier this year. It has also been broadcast by BBC Uploads.