I Heard Something on the Wireless

By Michael Miller

Dedicated to all the key workers of 2020 and to Major Tom who became the focus of our immense gratitude for, and appreciation of, our wonderful NHS

I heard something on the wireless
As i went about my day,
Some new strain of virus
In some province far away.

I didn’t pay much attention
As it seemed a distant threat.
Well that was my contention
So I didn’t break a sweat

The message, soon transparent,
Warned that death was prowling by,
It was painfully apparent,
That many were to die.

It’s time for us to come to grips.
Beat this virus” said stern faces,
While some returned from skiing trips
And others, Cheltenham races.

Boris came to warn us all
Some would pass before their time.
Showing charts upon a wall
With a steeply rising line.

“The R must be lower than one”
“We must flatten the curve”
“Stay at home, enjoy the sun,
Be strong and hold your nerve.”

We learnt a new vocabulary,
We learnt to “track and trace,”
Fined by the constabulary
If we didn’t stay in one place.

The supermarkets, soon besieged,
Yet few could see the folly,
When driven by their fear and greed
While filling up their trolley.

Children sought to get their kicks
Now the schools had shut their doors,
By watching Box sets on Netflix
And ducking all their chores.

The country locked itself away,
Some worked from their front room.
Pubs closed and punters in dismay
Drank tins, met mates, on “zoom”

Some baked cakes, some made bread
To fill the dawdling hour.
Some chose just to drink instead,
Because there wasn’t any flour.

Everyone tuned on the news,
To hear the latest plans.
Heard the scientific views.
Learnt how to wash our hands.

And everyday the roll call,
Grim statistics of those lost,
The lives and loves of people,
The terrible human cost.

We learnt to love and live apart,
Starfish stranded on the shore,
But the tide soon lifts the longing heart
So we learnt how to endure.

But the hardest pain of all to bear
As we saw our loved ones die,
Was just the fact we couldn’t be there
To say that last goodbye.

Key workers, on the lowest pay,
Like “Tommy’s” called to fight,
Put themselves in dangers way
To help us in our plight.

Despite their lack of PPE
To fight this enemy unknown,
Resolute, they did not flee,
And made the hospital their home.

We showed appreciation
We got up on our feet,
A humbled, grateful nation,
Applauding in the street.

Those who came before us
Who worked and toiled for years,
Lay languishing in care homes
With just memories and tears.

Major Tom, at ninety nine,
Like an Angel come to bless,
Pushed his walker “down the line”
To help the NHS.

But we found a different way to be,
As our focus realigned.
We found value in community,
As the old world fell behind.

These verses can’t be ended
Because there is no end in sight
Just hope, with reason, blended
That the dawn will end this night.

I wrote this poem during the first lockdown in the spring of 2020. Sitting in the garden, listening to birds singing around me and the sun shining through the blossom laden trees. It was meant to be like a diary entry, recording the exceptional times we all found ourselves in. I hoped when I posted it to Facebook and it would reappear a year later as a memory , the nightmare of this pandemic would all be behind us. 

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Bridget Langley
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Bridget Langley
7 months ago

Michael Miller hits the spot with his deceptively simple style. His work can amuse or move you. A modest, talented poet.

Bridget Langley
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Bridget Langley
7 months ago

Excellent poem by Mike Miller; touched by the ‘starfish verse.

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