Dreaming of another world is a new feature on my blog where I welcome fellow writers or bloggers to talk about their experiences of Covid 19 and lockdown. I wondered whether other creatives felt like me – that another world was possible and could just be glimpsed once we were forced to stay still. I’ve had a great response and each week I will be publishing a post written by a guest -sharing their thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears during this strange and unsettling time. This week please welcome Suzie Ankers to The Glorious Outsiders. Suzie is a member of my writing group (Chasing Driftwood Writing Group) and is currently working on her debut novel, a thriller. The stresses and strains of lockdown prompted her to write the following poem.
My Daughter Turns Fifteen
It approached like a dark circling tornado,
Full of the threat of violent destruction and menace,
We watch the news in nervous anticipation whilst around us other deny its very existence,
We become doomsday preppers gathering our medications and food to withdraw from society,
Then we wait and life for a while, continues unabated.
Two weeks later and the landscape of the world has changed,
The once busy shopping centres lie empty as a silent killer stalks their aisles,
Our airports and ports keep inviting further unbidden guests to our homes and families,
The doors to my own business remain resolutely shut but my shame escapes,
There is a huge sorrow and fear in the air as my colleagues prepare the NHS for its onslaught,
They are being sent to war without shields and weapons,
Those low paid workers are now the new heroes of our society brought to its knees.
I watched your silent anguish as everyday you swallowed pills which you knew increased your vulnerability,
Whilst your brother and sister railed against the injustice of their false imprisonment you had no such complaints,
The creases in your forehead an indicator of your climbing anxiety,
The news spews forth the dire nature of the battle we have entered into and the fact that we are unprepared,
As we watch our prime minister, an expectant father, now fighting for his life,
I guess you wondered if this is what Corona had in store for you.
Fortunately, the storm abated,
The blue skies of summer heralded the way of greater freedoms, but we didn’t realise we were in the eye of the storm,
Still you hung back and waited until we could at last change your medication,
Fearful of the very thing that makes us human, social interaction.
Your brother left for university,
He partied his way to newfound freedoms,
I saw you watching and shaking your head and yet there was resigned joy in the fact that he had managed to get some semblance of normality,
Beneath that we held a knotting fear in our stomachs,
Would he pay for wanting to be like everyone else?
What risks would he have to navigate in his future career as a Physiotherapist?
Your sister, the most sociable of her family had missed groups,
As soon as she could she reclaimed the reigns of her social life but guided her horse skilfully around the hurdles of the new rules,
Even she was chastened by the virus for wanting normality,
Her boyfriends brother tested positive for Corona after returning from holiday and we missed out being in contact by a hair’s breadth,
I questioned my boundaries and yet I knew this is not the summer she sought,
She had plans of festivals, illicit alcohol, boys, and music. Parties on the beach.
Instead she got family time and more family time,
Yes, we tried teaching her to drive but how could we replace her peers?
Finally, you return to school and I am so proud,
You are the only child in your class to wear a mask,
I see the worry though in the dark circles around your eyes,
I hear the anger as they confirm cases at school and still walk around the corridors without masks,
I sense the rising frustration that people are not taking things as seriously as you believe they should.
I watch you attend your first interview wearing clothes that make you look like a middle-aged woman,
I realise what a warrior you have become and how you have had to wear an old head on young shoulders,
My heart swells with pride as you patiently explain yet again that you wear a mask to keep vulnerable members of society safe.
The interviewer nods yet I wonder if he really understands
I lie in bed at 3am unable to claim sleep worrying about the future,
That’s when my husband holds me and I hear his heart beating deep inside his chest,
It marks the rhythm of time passing and I think how we have made it this far without arguments and together,
He whispers to me that I am a good mama but not even I can protect my children from the air,
My heart does a somersault and my eyes search the ceiling for answers that just are not there.
Thank you so much to Suzie for sharing her words with us. Suzie’s bio is below.
Suzie joined the creative writing group a year ago. For her the act of writing is akin to the joy of reading and transports her into another world. She has three teenage children and works as a Therapist supporting children with Autism, ADHD and Sensory issues. She lives with her husband and children plus their energetic cocker spaniel named Beau. This piece was inspired by her daughters return to school post lockdown and it proved cathartic to write down all her anxieties.