The Year That Never Was
On the soft tail feathers of winter we wheeled into spring
paying only scant attention to the China situation,
more intrigued by what they sold in the meat market -
it was their problem and so very far away.
Then unexpectedly it was here, mainland Europe,
erupting in our favourite holiday destination,
stalking the piazzas of Milan, canals of Venice,
emptying out streets, closing museums.
We agonized over travel, your birthday treat;
relieved I got mine - Iceland in October
nothing like Rome in March; in Reykjavik scarves worn
against the bitter cold; in Rome face masks, latex gloves.
Looked at warily on our return, no hugs
or kisses at the party, we didn’t know
we weren’t supposed to accept the invitation -
after fourteen days thankful there was no contagion..
Curfew without war, no bombs falling;
the incendiary a spiky cell you see on yellow posters,
Our world shrunk to two kilometres,
queues for the supermarket, fights over toilet rolls.
Concerts cancelled, empty churches, no dining out -
I miss deep fried calamari, sweet potato fries,
a browse around bookshops, choosing a pair of socks,
while social distancing robs us of our daughter.
Dispatches from the front each day count the dead
while in the theatre of war nurses battle on.
Summer is here, there are plans for an ending,
an opening up - does the virus know?
Weeks turn into months, we miss out on Easter,
no beaches in the summer sun, no ice cream cones,
autumn will come next, what kind of Christmas will it be?
We want an end to it, the year that never was.