By Lucy Allsopp

This season we are wearing
the looser trouser. We flap with
the snap of distant yachts, tacking
at two metres, spinnakers
in the burgundy no redhead should wear
(so said my dad). Of course, there is
no choice. My waist is welted.

My shoes an inadvertent match, tattered
burgundy, loafers I have loved
for their warm clasp of my feet, and yet
a flapping heel, kissing wet linoleum
-often wet now – percussing the steps,
morsing the news that these will not
make it home. Into the yellow bin.

Doffing in the staff bathroom. My sweat
a tang with their sweat, along
with aftershave, lavender, sandalwood,
vanilla’ed burgundy bundled into
bigger bins. The crawling scent of anxiety
spilling in a sprawl of S, M, L, XL
filling and overfilled and unlaundered, left.

And the rituals, spiced with isopropanol,
vanishing foam as we rub, and wipe,
and wipe, and wipe, and bin. The tiny bin
proud and orange-collared, smart
and so this season, tipping its hat to catch
today’s pleated piece of noonday cirrus.
My breath, clouding the worn mask.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Steve Horne
Steve Horne
1 year ago

I keep re-reading this poem and love it’s offset structure. Lucy should make it into the anthology as a ‘wildcard’ guest poet, I reckon…..

Marguerite Grey
Marguerite Grey
1 year ago

I love this poem – it’s analogies and descriptions seem to paint a clear and honest picture of the stresses of working in an ICU but in such a positive upbeat way. Very clever

1 year ago

Wonderful side-ways look at things.

Stephen Claughton
1 year ago

I liked the way the poem involves so many of our senses and especially its wry comparison between PPE and fashion. This is grace under pressure!

Let us know what you think of the Poetry and Covid project by completing this short survey… thank you!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x