By Andy Brown
Cornelis Dusart, etching, 1685
Strange to think that, once, these streets were noisy,
Now that lockdown’s brought them to a hush:
The cars are gone, the buses at a standstill
And all those schoolkids – babbling on their way,
Hollering from one kerb to the other –
Are shut indoors, in silence, with their screens.
The main road at the garden’s end has dwindled
To sporadic slipstream air and humming tyres.
No parting aeroplanes drone high above,
And I’m grateful for that at least. Grateful
For the song of birds; the rush of the wind
In the cherry; the swish of birch and ash.
It’s like we’ve gone back to a simpler time,
A calmer age in which I can hear myself
Think. I’m so used to the quiet, even
The doorbell makes me jump… I know it’s just
The postman delivering the boxes
Of things we bought online and don’t much need,
But I’m half expecting to open the door
Like that old dame in Haarlem, 1685,
To discover a hurdy gurdy man
Out there in the street, a spill of children
Trailing in his wake, and a little dog
Dancing in his collar and suit, yapping
As he prances on his hind legs. And why not?
Silence is imagination’s maker
Greeting the music of the possible…
While the vines around her porch continue
To house the pairing woodpigeons who coo
Steadily, as if nothing much could change.