By Denise Steele

Into a time of inequality, into division, uncertainty,
into distraction and sheer frivolity, suddenly came – a pause.

A kind of cradling in-between, hastily slung by fragile fixes.
Rhythms slowed or put on hold, pending resumption of service.

Unprecedented, word of choice, scramble-buzz of wasps on glass –
quite unforeseeably, quite unaccountably, slammed up against it.

A welcome home to space – for some. To kids, and opportunity.
A pause for thought, a research lab, inhabiting life differently.

Or, where jaw-drop fault-lines yawn, a clinging-on by fingertips.
Fear, anger, thoughts of harm in dark, unquiet interiors.

But food is brought to shielding doors, the homeless given shelter,
and freely breathing bluer skies watch deer explore town centres.

And day and night, frontliners sweat in begged-for masks and too-late
gowns. Their grace to turn us – comatose – toward a better outcome?

A pause by definition ends. Reflect? Recast? Recalibrate?
For pity’s sake, the same old same – please, do not resuscitate.

Denise Steele is a volunteer ESOL tutor who lives in Glasgow and dabbles in poetry. This quite angry poem was written during the first lockdown. Its hopes for a new order seem even further-fetched now.

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Next Poetry and Covid Reading, 10th March, 7pm (GMT): Three international pairings of acclaimed poets recite collaborations written for the AHRC-funded Poetry and Covid project anthology, published by Shearsman Press.

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