Since the school holidays are finally here, I’ve managed to write the poem I wanted to yesterday (Day 3) but didn’t have time for, due to working from home, creating English language resources.
I said yesterday that Wilfred Owen was adept at using half rhymes, eye rhymes and near rhymes in his poetry, and so today I decided to pay homage to Owen by parodying his poem ‘Exposure’. So, for any English teachers out there, or for any students studying AQA English literature, this one’s for you …
(With apologies to WILFRED OWEN)
Our brains ache, in the merciless land of isolation . . .
Wearied we keep awake because the streets are silent . . .
Vodka and gin confuse our memory of the salient . . .
Worried by silence, children whisper with anticipation,
But nothing happens.
Watching, we see celebrities teaching maths and gym;
The twitching agonies of dads who only grumble;
All day, incessantly, the flickering TV rumbles;
Far off, in Tesco they’ve run out of milk and jam.
What are we doing there?
The poignant misery of home life makes us sweat . . .
We know isolation lasts; germs breed; and washing hands too much
Is cracking skin. At least the melancholy march
To school no longer blights our lives and that is sweet,
But nothing happens.
Sudden successive bulletins of news streak the silence.
More dead than Spain: the number rising fast today,
With countless casualties that cough, burn up and die.
We watch the UK government’s apparent nonchalance,
As nothing happens.
Pale shapes with fingering stealth go hunting for more loo roll —
They queue for hours, buy up forgotten treats, and stare, hard-faced,
At pensioners; the nurses on their breaks are dazed
By people’s selfishness – where are the police patrols?
—Why aren’t we crying?
Slowly our ghosts drag home: clutching our spoils of war:
Once-crusty farmhouse bread, now past its sell-by date;
The tins of butterbeans; Dolmio sauce; and don’t
Forget sardines – all food we wouldn’t have touched before.
For good cuisine is dying.
Yet we believe we will still see the sun again;
That parks and schools and pubs will once more fill with noise.
For that inevitable day we wait; and on the news,
We look for signs this virus is abating –
Yet more are dying.
Tonight, we’ll stand outside our homes and clap our hands,
Applauding NHS and other worthwhile workers.
And then we’ll go once more inside, our minds on Walkers,
To eat our feelings and ignore our misery pangs.
Still nothing happens.