Standing in the park, alone in the darkness,
Anti-socially isolated from the world,
Watching the spark of the space station crossing the sky,
Climbing silently past Venus, arcing over Orion then fading
From view between Leo’s outstretched paws
I knew the world had changed.
When the curve has finally flattened; when the crisscross patterns
Of black and yellow tape are peeled off supermarket floors;
When our front doors are no longer the ice walls
Surrounding our fear-filled flat-screen Earths;
When we don’t swerve around strangers in the street like Pele,
Exchanging apologetic smiles while passing silent judgement
On each other’s bulging shopping bags;
When we don’t dread that back-of-the-throat tickle,
Don’t feel terror trickling ice cold down our spines
Every time we cough or feel “a little hot”
We’ll all be different.
We’ll value some simple things more, and realise how worthless
Other things have always been.
When all the twee “Earth is healing itself!” and “Nature is fighting back!” memes
Have been replaced by pouting Kardashian faces
And YouTube clips of adorable cats snoring in ridiculous places
Maybe someone will dare to stand up and speak the truth:
People did this, not the planet.
Politicians brazenly chasing Brexit votes by making “expert”
A dirty word, shedding lies as easily as snakes shed their skins,
Making people distrust everything they hear,
Will have blood on their sanitized hands and should hang
Their heads in shame, if only for the way they treated their “heroes”
Before The Virus came, when they were happy to pay nurses wages
So low they had to go to food banks to feed their hungry kids;
When the carers, cleaners and checkout girls they now praise
To the hills were dismissed as worthless and “unskilled”.
Until then we’ll wash and wash and wash our hands,
Stand on our balconies banging pans and clapping
For the weary warriors in gloves and masks
Fighting to save the lives of the stupid and the kind alike.
And hope we are spared.
© Stuart Atkinson 2020