A Poem for my Contact Tracer

By Tuesday Victoria Gale

After Charlotte Geater

My contact tracer is paid more than my nurse,
a customer facing role but with less sensitivity and empathy.

My contact tracer follows me from the comfort of their home,
no need for PPE, regular COVID testing and loose change for the parking fees.

My contact tracer has no fear of getting the virus at work,
asymptomatically taking it home to give to their family.

My contact tracer sifts through my data, silently judging me,
there are fine lines between privacy, safety and security.

My contact tracer sees The Red Lions name countlessly,
supporting my community hub, the pub, whilst meeting my social needs.

My contact tracer lists the shops wondering if every visit was essential,
the all important plant, puzzle, PJ’s, paint, makeup and milk, you know, the fundamentals.

My contact tracers mouth waters when they see the restaurants I frequented,
dutifully eating out so I could say with all my pride I truly did my best to help out.

My contact tracer virtually travels hundreds of miles to list the attractions and site seeing tours,
months of ‘out the office’ auto reply on furlough, I needed that holiday, like really needed it.

My contact tracer has worked out my daily exercise is now back inside at the gym,
was told my lockdown pounds made me carry more risk, so I must make myself more trim.

My contact tracer silently judges me, as they watch my contact list grow and grow,
a tangled web for them to unravel and follow.

Tuesday is a writer and poet in Cornwall. She can often be found walking her dog or lost in a good book.

I wrote this piece as a challenge to myself to take a different perspective as I continue to shield myself. I see and hear friends, family and the public just taking advantage of the freedoms they are given and I wonder when the day comes that track and trace app starts counting down and track and tracers make contact will they feel shame and guilt? There is a lot of controversy and uncertainty about the track and trace system and I hope that has also come across. I know a lot of people refusing to use the app due to fears of surveillance and privacy concerns, but isn’t that a small price to pay when the app could save lives and protect our NHS?

Reading and writing has been a lifeline for me throughout the pandemic. I have attended regular workshops with Dan Simpson, Cecilia Knapp and Anna Saunders which has not only nurtured my creativity but has been my main source of socialisation. My chronic illnesses and disabilities make it difficult for me to travel long distances to participate in workshops and to attend performances and readings. Technology use during the pandemic has made this possible for me to do the things that never used to be an option for me. I’ve also seen performers I’d never had got the chance to like Anthony Anaxagorou, Joelle Taylor, Rachel Long and many more! A part of me is scared of losing this accessibility when the pandemic is finally over.

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Chris Bashall
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Chris Bashall
13 days ago

Very poignant!

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