by | Jun 2, 2020

Cancellations

Lockdown Diary

Holly Peters, Plymouth’s Young City Laureate

A note in my phone entitled Summer Twenty-Twenty
That maps out dates and prices
Like rolling out an ancient atlas;
Treasure marked with an X.
It starts with a weekend in Prague.
Unknowing letters almost curling into smiles
One bullet point after another
Expecting nothing but more to follow.
A full stop. A pause.
An eraser across the summer we thought we’d have.
Sad, but glad it’s all I have to be sad about.

Calendar streaked with red biro kisses,
Each cancellation stitched with the same words:
It is with a very heavy heart, the statements say.
Keep safe, keep healthy.
Already planning parties for over a year away.

Alternatives presented. Efforts to stay connected.
Livestreamed festivals, line-ups spanning the globe,
Screen segmented – a quarter each,
Drumsticks against pots and pans,
Singing into hairbrushes or shampoo bottles.
Performances without an audience or applause,
Instead emoji comments and Facebook reactions.

Queueing in zigzags. Metal barriers, yellow tape.
No tickets. No tents or wellies.
Just disinfected trolleys and your bag for life.
A nod telling you your free to step inside,

Following the yellow brick road
Up and down the one-way arrows of the aisles.

The ball forgotten long before the clock struck twelve,
No need for pumpkins or slippers made of glass.
Waiting for tickets to lose their glow as
Announcements wash away their meaning, until they’re
Just pieces of glossy paper with smudged ink.
Dates slipping away becoming nothing more than
Another day of distance, another day locked away.

If people were made of string,
We used to be knotted,
Tied up to lots of things.
Casting them out and reeling them in,
Fishing for memories, fishing for chances.
Slipping around the plughole,
Gargling as what we’d expected slips through
The holes into the darkness.
The gloom shelters all that is uncertain.
Strings have been snipped,
Disconnected, floating,
Nothing left to be tied to.

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