The Queen’s Speech

By Beth Woollacot

Silent anticipation;
The soft crackle of a radio that only speaks once a year.
And then,
At 3pm
Like clockwork
She speaks.

We listen in respectful nods and wistful smiles;
Of what this year has taught us, of all of the trials.
In comfort we feel the warm embrace
Of others listening in another place.
Knowing Auntie June and Grandpa Joe
Will be nodding too even though
They can’t be with us for this year.
But hold it back, that threatening tear;
Else the flood gates will open.

“It won’t be long” but how much longer?
Pap is growing weary, he’s not growing any stronger.
How to know if this year
Will be his last to celebrate down here?
But no
We can’t have thoughts like that
Old Queenies always got our back.
Hold on
Take stock of all we’ve got,
It doesn’t feel like much but it’s quite a lot:
We’ve got our fingers and our toes
And Auntie June and Grandpa Joe;
And what if we took Christmas cheer?
And let it spread throughout the year?
Then we might begin to know
That what we’ve got is love to show.

The year We learnt
What love meant.

I wrote this poem as a response to how I was feeling about Christmas this year. The dissonance between the pandemic and ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ is quite grating and I know a lot of us are suffering. I hope this might lift people’s spirits up, if only for a short while.

I am a PhD student at Loughborough university studying mathematics education – I’ve no training but I enjoy writing poetry as an outlet for my emotions.

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