NaPoWriMo – Day 19

Today’s prompt was to write a poem based on a “walking archive.” For those of you (like me) who’ve never heard that phrase before, it refers to going on a walk and gathering up interesting things, such as a flower, a strange piece of bark, or a rock, which become your “walking archive” – the physical instantiation of your walk. The blog suggested that anyone unable to get out of the house for a walk (as many of us now are) could create a “walking archive” by wandering around your own home and gathering knick-knacks, family photos, maybe a strange spice or kitchen gadget you never use, then laying them out on a tray table, like museum specimens, and letting the group of materials inspire your poem.

This got me thinking: what if someone pre-Covid 19 went for a daily walk and was reminded of someone significant in everything that formed the “walking archive”? And how would that change once lockdown commenced and the “walking archive” that reminded her of someone special was a very different set of things that were encountered? I keep thinking of T S Eliot’s line in ‘The love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’ – “And I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” – and wondering what we all “measure out our lives with”. These two ideas inspired the following poem.

Before and After

Before isolation, you were

the bluebell in the park –

exotic but still familiar;

the soft downy feather

of the baby bird;

the smooth, polished pebble

lying by the side of the stream.

I still see you on my daily

peregrinations, but now you are

the countless cups of coffee

that keep me going;

the hours spent staring

out of my window;

and the endless rooms

that are empty without you.

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