Before

I find myself constantly bemoaning this never-ending lockdown,

This Winter confinement that doesn’t even hint at brighter days.

My head says, “just keep going” but my heart shouts “no more!”.

Nothing is like it was before.

These days I can’t remember what fuel my car takes because the only trip it makes is to work and back.

And on the rare occasion I go to a shop I have to stop to think about 4 digits that I’ve forgotten, even though I used to use them so often. 

Now, before work, I have to swab my throat and nose just in case it shows I’m COVID positive and I’ll have to

Stay at home,

Protect the NHS,

Save lives.

This time last year I’d never heard of test and trace.

Hands, face, space was more likely to be a kid’s party game than a way of life.

Back then, jabs in arms were what you gave to friends when you were larking around.

Hugs were things that were allowed, when two was company, but only three was a crowd.

Now a crowd is six, now we have to get our kicks online, with Zoom or FaceTime.  

Now there is no living in my living room.

Before, home-schooling was something we chose, for children who flourished in their own abodes, out-with the confines of a convoluted curriculum. 

Now mums wail “unfair” when their kid is in a Google classroom but yours gets a coveted place in the real thing.

Now we have to keep smiling to maintain the masquerade,

But the masks we wear these days are medical grade.

I used to go to the gym, or swim. Those things I used to do to stay slim.

Now loungewear is the only clothing I feel comfortable in, my only exercise is the walk from couch to biscuit tin.

These days I only see my parents from the waist up, when we’re wired up, never real, just virtual.

The kids press faces against a screen or wrap their arms around themselves to represent a hug they can’t give.

If someone had told me that I would live my life without permission to hug my loved ones, I’d have laughed.

Now I wish I’d hugged them more when I had the chance – who knows how long it will be before I get another? 

I miss everything about life before. I miss unexpected knocks at the door,

And impromptu catchups with friends that you don’t have to plan for.

I miss the ignorant bliss of a TV without news, or daily Press Conferences

Where the Government do their best to impress on us the rules and how safe our schools are.

I miss being able to jump in my car, drive however far my fancy takes me,

Or hop on a train for rooftop bars and margaritas, should that be my predilection.

But more than this, I miss intimacy and connection.

I miss the people that make me feel whole and put me on the right path when I am losing control.

I miss laughter, and fun, the kind you can only get with someone you can be you with.

(Not the you with three kids).

They say those times are coming, that there is a light at the end of this year-long tunnel,

But I am not so sure.

For now, I do my best to endure the suffocating air of these four walls,

And await the day that evil COVID falls.

JTM

Freya and The Fairy

One Spring morning,
When Freya was two,
She wandered the garden
For something to do.

While she was looking
At flowers and bees,
She saw something unusual
Amongst the trees.
She decided to look
A bit closer to see
What could be down there?
My! What could it be?!

Young Freya looked down
At the tree stump below
And guess what she spied?
A door, ever so low,
With a tiny gold handle
And a snowbell to ring
She couldn’t help wonder
Who on Earth lived within!

She wanted to knock,
But her hands were too big
So she looked all around her
And picked up a twig.
Gently she used it
To tap on the door,
So surprised when it opened
She fell to the floor!

And what do you think
Stood in front of her eyes?
A tiny young fairy,
Oh! What a surprise!
The fairy looked frightened
To see the huge child,
But she began to feel calmer
Went the girl-giant smiled.

“Hello! I am Freya,
And I live in this house.
I am sorry I scared you,
I was quiet as a mouse.
I discovered your door,
And was excited to see
If there was someone inside
Who’d be friends with me.”

The fairy flew up
Into Freya’s kind hands
And said, “I’d be so happy
If we could be friends.
But the Queen might chastise me
For talking to strangers;
She’ll be worried my new friend
Might put me in danger.”

“Oh no!” exclaimed Freya,
“I would never hurt you.
You can be my little secret,
And I’ll be yours too.”

And so from that day
In the garden they met,
Every bright morning
(Unless it was wet).
Under cover of trees,
They’d sit in the flowers,
Where if mum didn’t call
They’d have chatted for hours.

As the days passed,
The two became close,
As they sat on soft pillows
Made of daisy and rose.
They developed a friendship
That they never betrayed –
Friends they were then,
And friends they remained.

Joanne McBride / 28th November 2016

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