IF YOU ASKED ME WHAT I MISS THE MOST
I would say, people, kin, friends from all my ages,
who know me all my life, who share memories,
joys and sorrows.
It’s not seeing the next generation blossom –
I remember holding them close as babies
snugged in my neck, asleep, safe.
Or seeing them walk for the first time –
the unfettered joy of movement, speed.
Not forgetting the teenage years of awkward
times, learning to be an adult, confused
imagining no-one understands or shares
the muddle and unease of growing up.
I would love to share their cares, their laughter
and their losses – to support them now
in this time of constraint and fear.
If you asked me what I miss the most
It’s Howth head, the cliff walk in all seasons –
broom or heather or pared down grass.
The sea mirroring my step, showy or steady.
And the shades; sun shimmer on a bright day
moon glow at dusk – indigo water with pinprick stars.
Or sepulchre grey on a day of storms.
The breath-taking moment on Howth head
as you turn downwards to the shore, light in all seasons.
Remember New Year’s Day 2017 –
waves washing us in hope of return –
unreachable in the end, though I yearned
for the familiar, for places stored in my heart.
If you asked what I miss the most, it’s belonging.
WHAT DO I KNOW?
I know that words matter, being able to express
our feelings, our grief, to capture a cloud
or the whoosh of a weeping willow –
the sunburst yellow of a buttercup.
I know that touch matters, that many are dying
without the caress of a loved one, that we can’t comfort
friends and family with a warm embrace, wrapping
our love around their sorrow.
I know that many have stayed at home, in pain
in grief, in anguished uncertainty, because of love.
That folk have almost starved by keeping the rules –
that they miss seeing and hugging another person.
I know that poor leadership costs lives
that many people are doing their very best –
enduring beyond reason. And I know that doubt
and distrust are more corrosive than poison.
The weather has been kind, warmth, light –
our daily walk yields bounty – blue periwinkle
virtuoso birdsong, heralding joy. Shrubs alive.
Nature’s mood music is positive, open.
The weather is unkind, lighting up the near hills
inviting us to sit out in cafés and wine bars
when we cannot. We are contained, constrained
out of sorts, unsure of what lies ahead.
I feel exposed, in an unfamiliar way,
despite my gloves and the protective veil
of my cheery yellow scarf. My mood tones
are autumn, tipping into winter.
And the questions we avoid, hold back.
What if, how will we manage – I worry you don’t know
where everything is. I remind you of my songs
and my cygnet dance as the final curtain crosses.
We laugh, today is saved, we walk with ease.
Later, I say that planning is a good thing –
the virus has tripped us all, taken us by stealth.
But whenever we go, let it be like this;
Holding hands, sea rhythms, cello chords.
You can drift – I will hold you safe –
as the tide retreats, the sun goes down
and the moon recedes to the last quarter.