By Hugh Dunkerley
We’re forbidden the language of touch,
can no longer translate our need
into hug, kiss or simple handshake,
must keep our distance and breathe
through masks of dumb cotton.
Every other body is a potentially
lethal weapon and must be treated
as such. We live on screens, pixelated
simulacra of embodied selves,
voices reanimated through the witchcraft
of the digital, but it’s no match
for an arm of comfort on a shoulder,
the syntax of a caress, the bliss
of one body speaking to another.
I have published two collections of poetry, Hare and Kin, both with Cinnamon Press. I teach at the University of Chichester and live in Brighton.
I wrote this poem during the first lockdown, when I couldn’t see or hug my elderly parents. I find reading poetry can, as Robert Frost said, be ‘a momentary stay against confusion.’