By Susie Wooderson
to greet the coffin.
to household groups –
the uninvited threat worn across our faces.
I track my grandmother’s tears. Reaching forward
I could touch her shoulder,
but my hands stay locked, and not in prayer.
Hands that last week touched my grandfather,
through blue nitrile gloves.
Hands that wait
to unmask my grief, to gather it up,
into something I can hold.
As the first lockdown commenced, my immediate thought was that I couldn’t fit in home-schooling, housework etc, and writing – either physically, or mentally. So, I channelled my creativity into my children, and my garden, and started baking bread. The limited free time I had in the evenings, was spent doom-scrolling the news, or watching Netflix, which in the face of the collective trauma we were all facing, was all I had the energy for.
Then in late June, I experienced a more personal trauma, with the death of my grandfather. A trauma compounded by coronavirus restrictions. Immediately, and instinctively, I sought sense and solace in writing. The timing was good because the summer holidays were about to commence and the long sunny days in the garden, busied the children, and gave me some space to process my loss.
I began exchanging short uplifting poems in messages with friends, gave up doom-scrolling, and discovered that the online poetry community was more alive than ever. Coronavirus brought previously inaccessible readings, book launches, workshops and masterclasses, into my home, affording me a sense of community and continued wellbeing.
In many ways this winter lockdown has been harder on my family, but my poetry has not suffered in the same way. I continue to feel connected to the world of poetry, and even when time does not permit writing, I am making notes and observations for future work.
I am delighted to share this poem ‘Comfort, Curtailed’ with you, in memory of my much-missed grandfather, and with love to my darling grandmother, who I hope to be able to hug again before too long.