Three Poems

By Christopher

Closed Until Further Notice

On the path outside the Highgate pearly gate
I stood and rattled chains, tried to enter, saw
That sign, again, ‘closed…’, I’ll have to wait
There’s no-one here, all furloughed, off to war

I tried my ‘social distancing’ while in the shopping queue
My practiced helicopter arms defined the space apart
Alarm bells rang on Westminster Bridge; what to do?
Calling DHL** parcel delivery, I pressed enter, ‘put in cart’

Please understand, this is a serious affair
My skeleton key does not fit the lock
Quarantine broke me; I came out for air
My soul between a hard place and a rock

Doctors, nurses, family, friends held my (virtual) hand
A stream of all I’d loved went through my mind
Perhaps I will now go across to that other land
Endless reprieve? ‘To be’, my goal, but will unwind

My tears for you who made this journey’s end
Yet grateful for your love while you were there
Tears for myself who has lost another friend
Sadness and joy, the everlasting net of care

And yet, as I rattled chains upon that gate
And read the warning notice hanging in the air
I understood I would return, but have to wait
To join you and all my friends sleeping there

Did I choose this much less travelled way?
Or was it chance that none were there to greet?
You walked that path just now; I was to stay
Stay calm, carry on, see friends, on this busy street


** ‘DHL working in partnership with the NHS’ still seen written on the side and back of many Ambulances in London. Their contract ran from 2016 to February 2019. SCCL subsidiary, Unipart, a car parts delivery service, started their 5 year £730 million contract with NHS Supply Chain Logistics at the end of February 2019.

Begin Again

Let me ride inside the beast
I volunteered for this
Put my life on the line
Just to see all the other people

Normal. Sitting in the sun.
Youth released from school or metronomic drudge
Now skateboarders, click-clicking, swishing by
Entertaining us above Trafalgar Square
Our new National Gallery of the living
Nodding policemen grasping,
Counting groups of six

Figures melting, mutating, moving, re-assembling
Crowding around the clear water fountains
Standing, sitting all around, or on the pedestal lions
Watching, listening; music, joyous words beginning
Together once more
Transported to this new land
And the new beast to tame

Inside

100,000 Dead

She was pleased to be Pfizered at Francis Crick
Sensible St. Paul, the Nurse, presiding
She was on the database and got notified
Then punched the buttons to sign in

Computer says no. Little England,
Full of shrinking boundaries,
Until locked behind doors
A pair of eyes; all that’s left of her face
American forms; 31 months of 12 days in each year?
The British day and month of birth rejected
“Check your first & last name & birthdate”

In the middle of these killing fields;
Covid deaths well over 100,000, long-term disability
St. Peter standing at the gates of heaven
No easy routes around the danger and Covid fear
Speak truth to power; no more idiocracy

She read & signed the Reg 174 vaccination indemnity waivers
Volunteers, PPE’d; cheerful, distanced, welcoming, relaxing

The label on the vial said five doses of 0.3 mL
A newly trained nurse;
Asked to get five jabs per vial, six if he could
He played with the needle
Tried to get the sixth, no luck
Filled in a form, said wait for ten minutes
Then another medic volunteer, another vial
Nurse struggled with the needle: found the last dregs
The sixth dose, nectar; and she was Pfizered
Afterwards, sat 15 min. in the grand Crick Theatre
Given a glass of water, biscuit, warm goodbye, a card
What’s next?

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