By Pamela Galloway
Dance the Zig-Zag
As I walk narrow paths
I’ve acquired a new gesture
somewhat royal: my left hand raised
in a flat-palmed salute, not quite a wave
lacking the twist at the wrist, not quite
a full on Stop! But somewhere between,
as I wonder, when another stroller approaches:
will they zig, should I zag?
And I swerve two metres
to the right of them.
Each of us smiles, British
to our cores – No offence!
It’s the new way.
It’s the Covid way.
The etiquette of staying alive.
Salvation in the spring garden
April in the garden.
Himalayan balsam is spiking
green over every bare patch,
in every crack between paving stones
ready to party all summer.
Fairy cap buds unfurl
into delicate, pink throated flowers
that will, at summer’s end
dance viral wantonness,
cough contagion across
land, to leap fences, lift into the wind.
My decisive fork plunges deep
pulls out tender yet treacherous roots
and two small creatures, closely-curled
sickle moons, soft pink and grey,
baby worm and slug.
Blanketed in clammy darkness
they grew isolated from danger,
their world now rent apart.
They twitch and wriggle on warm stone
in the newly sinister light.
I scratch a furrow in the soil, gently
return these unharmed to safe solitude.
Covid in the big top
The year has tumbled forward, now crouches
in the dark, houselights and stage lights off,
spring and summer’s energy gone
when, in the face of a viral threat, profound illness
and death, we cheerfully walked high-wires alone
waving rainbow flags, clapping and clapping
key-worker stars but also ourselves.
Now, we wait for the spotlights to surge on
follow the teetering pyramid, shoulder
on shoulder, white-coated acrobats
holding up one, two three vaccines under trial.
Everyone is holding their breath as they stand
steady, get ready to jump into a victory circuit
bounce and flip as cymbals crash, bass drums pound.
We will throw flowers, popcorn, unmasked kisses
as our tiny spiked adversary is wiped off the bill.
Pamela has dreams of again splitting her time between UK and Vancouver BC which was her home for 38 years. Caught in the Covid trap.
Books: ‘Passing Stranger’ (Inanna Publications, Toronto 2014) and ‘Parallel Lines’ (Ekstasis
Editions, Victoria 2006).
When lockdown began, pandemic poems started to emerge from my thoughts as I moved through ordinary every day activities. Whether it was going for a walk, weeding the garden or just looking out my window the world was newly quiet and my focus pulled in tighter. When I brought these poems together for this project I saw how my mood had changed from an initial upbeat almost comedic tone, to the dark dose of reality in the last poem. Just over a year separated these poems. It seems five times that span.