Two Poems

By Jenna Selvas

Where has all the colour gone?

Black on white

a straggle of hedge
withered beanstalks like
three-day stubble on frostbitten skin

white on white

a scuffle of pawprints
ciphers in snow
boot studs mapping a frozen field

black on black

a long dark coat
a funeral tie
a single mourner in a limousine

black and white weeks
an exercise book
ruled lines stratifying our days

but we can colour in the margins
apply a wash of blue
above the smothered fields
soften the outline of the winter trees
lighten the horizon with a gleam of hope.

“When all the clocks break, time goes on without them” Michael Blumenthal

The clocks have stopped
in this quiet house,
there are no deadlines,
the diary’s full of plans
crossed out, postponed
until things change.

I clean my teeth and
make the bed, cook
meals, put washing
out to dry, write
something new.

Time goes on regardless.

children and parents
work on line,
share screens
and give each other
elbow room.
Spurts of rage and fear
erupt at times;
not every house is calm,
all children safe.

Delivery drivers
pound the motorways,
workers in gloves stack
supermarket shelves,
nurses do shifts that
drive them to their knees,
then sleep and start again.

Unreality becomes reality.

People reach deep inside themselves,
find new and unexpected things:
dust off discarded dreams, find
time to play, to build a matchstick
Taj Mahal, a model hovercraft,
to play the flute, read books again.
Days will grow warmer; soon
there’ll be snowdrops in the grass
frogspawn in the ditch, seedling
will be ready to be planted out.

During the first lockdown I decided to write a poem a day and share it with friends to help us all get through the days. I ended up with 94 poems! When lockdown ended, I put a selection of them into a competition run by the Hedgehog Poetry Press and won. The collection of 40 poems is called The Underside of things and I’ve raised £1255.00 for Childline and the Samaritans. The book is £10 inc. pp and I have just 10 copies left. 

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A C Clarke
A C Clarke
11 months ago

Congratulations Jenna on writing a poem a day during the first lockdown and still more on winning the Hedgehog Press competition. A truly productive use of our enforced restrictions. I particularly like your first poem here ‘Where has all the colour gone?’ with its sharp imagery and vivid lagnuage ‘scuffle of pawprints’, ‘smothered fields’.

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