Eerily empty streets punctuated with people in small pockets.
Grocery stores, off licenses and takeaways are the only establishments that draw a breath.
They’re the only places reaping any kind of the profits,
Amidst a row full of shutters, to help slow the rate of burgeoning death.
It’s Saturday night and with few people scattered around,
I take in familiar sights with a renewed perspective.
Like a tourist mistakenly stumbling upon an unnervingly bleak town,
That’s been transformed by the recent government directive.
Iridescent shades of marigold and marmalade pour out of windows,
With life carrying on fervently – now more than ever – on the inside.
Only peering outside at 8pm on Thursdays to clap for our heroes.
Other than that, Houseparty, Zoom, and the garden is where they temporarily reside.
Deliveroo drivers have stepped in (2 metres apart) to feed the nation.
They gather in distanced formations around chicken and kebab eateries, waiting patiently,
Whilst the once reliable Chinese takeaway across the road is empty and faces degradation.
It’s forced into the shadows shamefully, as luminous lights of nearby eateries blaze brazenly.
Strolling down the pavement, I see someone approaching from the opposite direction.
My pulse intensifies as we briefly lock eyes, teetering on opposite edges of the pathway,
As we nod in acknowledgement of what we’re doing for our protection at the intersection,
Eternally grateful there was no hint of a cough and we both passed rapidly without delay.
I scan a supermarket that’s still open and find myself noticing their lack of floor tape.
I wince as two employees shoulders nearly touch as they chatter without a mask or barrier,
And notice a lack of social distancing in some narrow aisles, my expression agape,
Apprehensively making mental notes on rules that should be implemented in the shop interior.
I feel my phone vibrate thinking ‘must be fake news in the family WhatsApp again’
Take a moment to appreciate I can be outside for this daily exercise,
Deeply inhale a breath as I let it go, meditatively repeating to prevent going insane.
As a thought occurs; how clean was that air back there? Will that cause my demise?
As my walk is coming to an end, I slow down before returning to the comfortable prison,
And berate myself as I’m lucky to not be working in a supermarket or hospital AKA 2020 battlefields.
I wonder if like a phoenix we’ll arise from the ashes of this, with a new found wisdom,
And how long the word will be like this, before it is healed.
The birds singing, pollution levels dwindling, cleaner waters are temporary,
Unless after covid, we take a new emboldened approach to climate change.
The new found community spirit shown by volunteers has pulled us together as we face this common adversity,
And now that we know our neighbours, we should go back to a post-covid world estranged.
Those currently working remotely have been given a blessing in disguise now knowing being in the office is not necessary.
A better work life balance could most easily be arranged.
Even spending more quality time with your family in your sanctuary may currently feel revolutionary,
As we secretly are finding ways we like and appreciate that small change.
Of course the horrors of this illness that plague us are abysmal and scary.
The economic, health and mortality fears have run many of us ragged with uncertainty,
But if we can take some lessons with us, we could try to do something extraordinary.
Put the earth and our humanity equally at the forefront and respect each other’s liberties,
And transform our communities, climate, and careers post covid-19 with dignity.