It will come as no surprise to anyone that I have done very little work in these extraordinarySpring days. Instead, I have walked through Richmond Park, along the Thames path and through Sheen Common as if I have never seen them before. I know I am privileged to live near such lovely places.
I don’t know if it is the lack of planes and traffic, the imminent and pervasive sense of doom, or just the fact that it is an exceptionally beautiful Spring, but really the landscape has never looked so lush. The blossom is almost excessive, the sky an implausible shade of blue. I wonder if I have slipped into some alternate Disney fantasy and Covid 19 is about to be destroyed by a square jawed, unfeasibly muscular hero on a white charger. Neither the Spring nor the threat seem entirely real.
As I seem to be living through some poorly plotted and not entirely plausible fiction ( I mean the American president suggesting people inject themselves with cleaning fluid!) I seem unable to write any. My imagination runs to dystopian post-apocalyptic narratives and it has just been upstaged, then furloughed by events.( Not that I'm being paid 80% of anything.)
I have though, written a lot of poetry, more or less a poem a day since I recovered from my own bout of the lurgy - thirty three in all.They are all about living through these strange days – plague poetry if you like. I’ve taken to experimenting with obscure forms too: triadic couplets, triolets, villanelles, caesurelles and luc bats. I’ve send some to the Blue Nib literary magazine and they will be published at some point, but I am putting them on Facebook daily as a rather bizarre way of chronicling this time and sharing my response to it with friends.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with a crisis - baking, yoga, box sets, gaming, gardening, crafting, drinking: mine appears to be long walks and writing poetry.
Plague poem 34: a morning sonnet.
I greet bad weather as a grumpy friend
whose mood chimes better with my own
than clear, cartoon-blue skies that tend to lend
these days the air of dreams. Have I alone
joined in some remade Truman show or slipped
into a fantasy? blossoms tumble
birds trill, set designed by Disney. I’m gripped
seduced, my eyes held rapt until I stumble
on the news again and start to wonder
how two such worlds could both be true at once
give me pathetic fallacies, thunder,
rain, the colder winds of some bitter month.
Yesterday, grassy hills were graveyard green
river, stone, mist, shroud, the way it should have been.
If you want to take a look at the poems - I am Nicky Matthews Browne on Facebook.