If I Close My Eyes

By Helen Kay

I stop seeing myself in a hotel-turned
isolation-unit or in a gasping hospital.
and I know my own duvet tucks me in.

If I close my eyes, I forget underlying
, lying with me, lying to me,
taking me under.

If I close my eyes, I work through
best hugs I have ever had, and feel
all the grip of a hundred hands .

If I close my eyes tighter, I see hankies boiling
on the stove, while Mum seasons a formica top
with Vim, which, she says, means power.

If I close my eyes, I am at school,
playing tag, chasing and being chased
not running away or jogging on the spot.

If I close my eyes, I am five and a pink
bedroom cannot remove nightmares
of Mr Death under the bed and the universe

having no edges, but I can run next door
and nestle in my dad’s wiry arms
and know he will make it all right.

If I close my eyes, this disease will hide
itself somewhere; if I count to ten, then,
ready or not, I will open my eyes again.

I spent the first lockdown with my 99 year old Aunt and a hen puppet. The Aunt reached 100 and the puppet kept people amused on Facebook with 103 posts about keeping Safe & Sane.   

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