By Hannah Linden
The world is playing into boxes
we open like guilty secrets
in the clang of our private spaces.
Maybe we should pay a fear-fee
for the release we feel, so we bless the senders
with surprise emoticons.
My son pulls spring bulbs through
his fingers and his violin strings them
into flowers. Inside is the new outside
and there’s so much we need to learn.
For insects, we import strange
itchings along our spines.
Everyone is wondering if this will end
well or badly. Some of us will die
before the denouement and we don’t know,
yet, if they’re lucky. My daughter mows
the too-long grass and the birds struggle
to lift it and shape it into homes.
Next-door’s cherry tree suckers spread their fingers
through the clover-lawn.
Our lawnmower imaginations stutter during
the first cut. Shallow fantasies of feeding a village
sew themselves into the baskets of repeating days.
We are more field than forest these days,
our weekly meetings across the barricaded street
like a visit to the safari of rare breeds.
We are all bohemians now, wearing yesterday’s
clothes. At 1am all the living room lights
are shining. It’s a marvel to see each other
once a week as we applaud people
who do the real work.
We were not born for captivity. There’s
a lack of tuning to our shared songs
of freedom. Seeds of discontent
are pushed to the backs of cupboards
with stockpiled hope.
I miss you all now.
We are solitary hares,
rare and precious, longing
Is it possible to rebirth
the sensuality of home,
the decadence of not worrying
about an uncertain future?
If I could give voice
to seeds tucked into their individual packets
I’d grow the smile you gave
from across the thickening hedge.
I’d turn it into food.
Bullets of violets,
rhythm of wild garlic.
of springs unwinding.
This imperfect excess.
Belts of attendants
in their moveable,
edging closer to towns.
Unwed the future
from our poisonous scratches.
This balm of inaction.
This pause. This shield.
Hannah Linden is published widely including in Atrium, Lighthouse, Magma, Proletarian Poetry, Strix, The Interpreters’ House and the 84 Anthology etc. She is working towards her first collection, Wolf Daughter. Twitter: @hannahl1n
These poems were written throughout the spring and summer of 2020 when my family were ill with suspected Covid which developed into long covid chronic fatigue. There were no tests available locally at the time. We all felt very anxious then, worried about whether we’d manage to get enough food, especially as we live in a small village without a shop. It was the time we crept out to clap the NHS, when we were well enough. There was an unusual quiet most of the time and what we noticed was that nature was left more undisturbed than usual: less cutting of hedges, lawns and a general sense of nature returning itself to its more natural unkemptness. We, as a family, found that very comforting. But when we re-emerged from illness, we had missed a whole spring and summer.