The year 2020, like 1066 and 1914, will be forever remembered for one thing only. If I survive till 2021 I’ll note it in my diary as a year of horrors; neither I nor my family have yet got Covid but there have been various disasters in my circle and some of my friends have died. But, as someone said to Wilfred Owen when he was returning to the front, at least your experiences should be good for your poetry! Literally thousands of poems have been and are being written about the plague and the lockdown. CORONAVERSES, edited by Janine Booth and published by Roundhead Publications, is an anthology by forty-three poets which came out as early as April. And WRITE WHERE WE ARE NOW, the creation of Carol Ann Duffy and Manchester Metropolitan University, is an online anthology which includes some marvellous work. Shoestring Press will be bringing out its own anthology, LOCKDOWN AND AFTER, next spring, and I’m currently reading poems for that. The one which follows is one which I wrote in March, just before the lockdown, inspired by a walk along Oxford Canal where we are not now encouraged to go:
Corona days, trudging along the silent towpath
by the canal, wishing that it was the sea,
each day I hear, singing along the airwaves,
fresh news of death, divorce, disability.
How distant now the days when I was battling
three months ago, to set the world to rights.
Now, every trivial move must be considered.
I gasp for sea air. I envy the red kites
who wheel above us, back from near-extinction,
enraptured, each day feasting on roadkill.
Celandines, crowsfoot fringe the path where few now
step out, spring colours, radiant and cruel.