Tuesday, 4 May 2021

MY PANDEMIC POEM

 I think one of the things that helped me during this Pandemic is the fact that I once spent ten years in a religious order. Another is that my wife and I share a sense of humour that verges on the graveyard type. It has also helped that, although I left a religious order, I haven't left my belief in God and the afterlife: matters are all going to be sorted, but not necessarily down here.

Having enough money to live on is a great help, as is having a healthy appetite and an ability to cook something appetizing, and thereby to look forward to dinner time. What else is there? Watching rugby on TV, although the home channels have by now shamefully abandoned the Heineken Cup and the Pro-14 to commercial channels. All I can watch live are the Six Nations fixtures. Hence during this Pandemic I have watched old recordings of outstanding games over and over, and depend on highlights for Heineken Cup and Pro-14.

The news at five-thirty is a must, bringing the latest Pandemic facts and figures. Together, on week evenings, we have been watching crime dramas. On weekends we play music together and drink a few glasses of wine. We have a couple of friends whom we Zoom and my siblings to phone. Our son, living in London, and his partner, have given us a grandson, whom we hope to see in the flesh post-lockdown. 

I have made strides in learning new tunes on my concertina. I have miraculously survived visits to the local grocers and the off-licence, and am now fully vaccinated. The last holiday we had was a 'staycation' in Donegal in July 2020, which was pleasant. Having had more time to write means that half of the extra time was spent avoiding writing, but I hope to publish a new collection of poems this year.

Many many people have written Pandemic poems. I, too, have written one. Even though I cannot begin to comprehend the horror that other people have suffered from Covid 19, I think there's at least a surreal line or two in this poem which point toward it. 

THE RIP


There’s a rip in my green trousers

just above the knee, 

a rent in the scheme of things

on the edge of my patella.

I don’t know how it got there

and can’t be arsed to mend it

or go searching for a seamstress

because when I am asked  

to recite or be a mentor,

viewers on Zoom can’t see

my body’s lower segment

and within my five kilometers 

other walkers keep their distance, 

too far to spot the tear,

because it’s the Pandemic.


And the TV took it on

to report the daily numbers

of the stricken and the slain

and told us wash out hands

or we'd become statistics

but many didn't wash

because it seemed too simple

a cure-all for such pestilence.

Some were plague-deniers,

others held raucous shindigs

and there were those unfortunates

who once only, before

they brushed an eyelid's itch,

forgot to swab their fingers

although it's the Pandemic.


And even when I go 

for groceries to the Aldi

not a soul remarks the snag

on the edge of my patella

and it’s not because they’re blind

to rips or rents in garments,

it’s because they’ve got the jitters

and the one and only detail

they look at is my mask

which is now a part of me,

it’s become my lower face.

So I’m not at all put out

by the rip in my green trousers,

I’m glad of any trousers 

because it’s the Pandemic. 

© Ciaran O'Driscoll 2021








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