Adult Writing - WRSR

Lockdown reflections...

 

List of 6 entries.

1st PLACE: Entry 6. S. Fairfax (3)

 

Judge's Comments:

A well executed poem that contrasts the positives and negatives of the lockdown experience with five verses on each side of the line, each based on one word themes. This was an innovative approach and it really did evoke the mixed blessings of the lockdown. As a piece I think it will stand the test of time the best of all the entries - and if read again in a few years time I think we would all be reminded of our experiences and feelings.

World in Lockdown

The world is quieter now –

 

Absent - the bustling crowds from city centres

Form wary, snaking lines to buy their food,

Or order with a couch-convenient mouse-click,

While local retail locks its doors and waits.

 

Empty - the playground echoes fading laughter,

Wistful stillness wraps around the schoolyard gates,

While swings and climbing frame stand silent, waiting,

Enshrouded in a mesh of plastic tape.

 

Lonely - the elderly gent looks from his window,

Watching flitting birds and clouds pass by,

Missing the cheery chatter of grandchildren,

Counting the hours until the weekly call.

 

Grieving - the handful of selected mourners,

Strung out along the graveside, bow their heads –

The comfort, all are seeking, now forbidden –

Give silent prayers for one who passed alone.

 

Cautious - we make contact from a distance,

Communication muffled by our masks.

Shielding behind screens which blur our features,

The vulnerable feel isolation and despair.

The world is quieter now –

 

Together - families find paths in blooming woodland,

Delight in tending gardens, learn new crafts,

Fill kitchens with warm fragrance of our baking,

Find novel ways to entertain and play.

 

Watchful – timid creatures venture closer,

Garden birds swoop down to snatch a treat,

Tiptoeing deer bask in the sunshine of the meadows,

While bolder foxes scavenge meals to feed their cubs.

 

Caring – volunteers donate their hours;

Key workers soldier on to keep us safe;

The internet becomes a vital lifeline;

Communities unite to offer neighbours help.

 

Thinking – the learned scientists and medics

Devise technologies to help us all.

As crises catalyse developments for better,

This pandemic will bring benefits and growth.

 

Reflecting – we take time to think and ponder,

Evaluate our losses and our gains,

Moving forward, valuing every encounter,

Taking time to notice treasures not yet seen.

 

The world is quieter now, yes, life is harder,

But together we’ll get through this time of need.

The world is quieter now – take time, be peaceful

And I hope you find some blessings while you wait.

2nd PLACE: Entry 3. E. Fairfax, age 14

Judge's Comments:

Again a poem which highlighted both the positives and negatives of lockdown, and this time in a very elegant and efficient way, finishing with a message of hope.

Dear 2020

 

Dear 2020,

Look how fast you’ve gone,

So much has gone right,

Yet so much has gone wrong.

 

Dear 2020,

At times you took so long,

With cases rising day by day,

It was hard to stay strong.

 

Dear 2020,

At times you shut out the hope,

Isolated for so long,

Made it hard to cope.

 

Dear 2020,

Good things happened too,

Learning how to bake and draw,

That’s just to name a few.

 

Dear 2020,

You made nature seem new,

Walking through shady tree-covered paths daily

Was a great gift from you.

 

Dear 2020,

Your best gift of all

Was showing as a community,

We can get over a fall.

3rd PLACE: Entry 1. S. Fairfax

 

Judge's Comments:

A short and simple vignette contrasting the impact of Covid19 and its lockdowns on this generation with that of the the second world war in the 1930's and 1940's. The piece met the brief well, and was quite evocative, but perhaps it feels like it should be part of a longer narrative.

 

Author's notes: We noticed certain parallels between the coronavirus pandemic and wartime restrictions, which provided us with a whole home-school project during Lockdown 1, drawing on 2020 commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War 2, as well as our own family history. My children are fortunate to know their Grandma, who has clear memories of her wartime childhood experiences, which inspired this story. We are humbled by the positive spirit of older generations, who set us a good example for coping with adversity.

A Lockdown Lesson.

“Bored! I’m sick of this stupid lockdown!”

Mum gave her usual stern look: half pitying, half exasperated.

There was literally nothing to do, nothing worthwhile, anyway. I’d finished today’s schoolwork. No music - Dad was working upstairs and my headphones were broken – no chance of replacing them soon. Downstairs was strewn with the twins’ various school projects while they squabbled over the laptop at the kitchen table.

“Can’t I meet my friends?”

“You know that’s not allowed. You can hang out this washing, though, then take Granddad’s shopping.”

I saw the overflowing laundry basket, and Mum’s efforts to explain the twins’ Fractions, while juggling cooking, housework and her part-time accountancy – and felt guilty.

 

 

Warmed by sunshine along the short walk to Granddad’s, serenaded by a thrush from a sycamore bough, I remembered Granddad teaching me about wildlife. The bag wasn’t heavy – his tastes were simple … milk, bread, some fruit – and his favourite chocolate – Mum was thoughtful like that.

Granddad was pleased to see me, of course, but didn’t seem surprised. I found him on the village green by his cottage, tending the Memorial – his self-appointed responsibility. Three surnames were his – two elder brothers killed in different conflicts, an uncle lost to the Great War. Granddad’s father survived both, scarred by his experiences.

“Wartime was a bit like lockdown,” Granddad answered my question. “Things changed, there were restrictions – for everyone’s safety. We all did our bit. Mother did farm work; I had a milk round.

“It was scary – the threat of discarded bombs - under the flight path, here. One wiped out three families. Not knowing when or how it would end… We believed we’d win, but it was never certain. We came through it, though. And I was fortunate – I stayed with Mother – many families were split up.”

I imagined Granddad, aged eight, struggling to deliver jugs of milk with German bombers flying overhead – it didn’t seem fortunate. But I realised that, by comparison, I was, and resolved to appreciate my family, be more helpful and complain less.

As I walked home, Lockdown didn’t feel so bad after all.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Entry 2. G.Heads

Judge's Comments:

A simple blank verse poem contrasting lockdown with the Old Testament flood story, making reference to the ark, and neatly drawing a direct line between the rainbow of hope. Perhaps the simile was a little strained in places, but overall it met the brief, was well written and was an imaginative piece.

 

The Flood.

 

Coronavirus has swept over us like a flood.

We have sat at home and felt the waters rising,

Sweeping away our security and complacency.

At times we have feared we would drown.

 

Confined and cooped up,

We scan the horizon for signs of hope.

Our ark has felt like a prison; the kids are fighting

And no one wants to feed the animals.

 

As the waters recede, our impatience grows.

We long to step out but fear that we may sink.

We watch, and wait and pray.

We look for the rainbow.

 

Drawn by children, the coloured sign shines out from many windows.

Drawn by the Father’s hand across the sky,

The promise stands that all we know and love

Will not be washed away.

 

Dare we believe that, even when the waters rise around us,

Strong hands will lift us up?

That whatever the shore we step out onto,

We will not be alone?

 

 

20.02.21

 

HIGHLY COMMENDEDEntry 4. S.Lapin

Judge's Comments:

A short piece of prose which was imaginative and well written. It is a piece that may mean more to the writer than to the reader, and its link to the brief was not a central theme but rather fleeting. The piece is titled "1968-2020 Muriel Remembers", and I was left wondering who is or was Muriel. 

1968 - 2020, Muriel remembers

They’ll be rivers of blood.

She could still see the carp, pop-eyed and side-flipped, borne down the Churn on a tide of red.

For weeks, she couldn’t get the image out of her head. Nor that of the MP for Wolverhampton South West. A small man, with a toothbrush moustache and impeccable tailoring. At first, he reminded her of Pops. Then he started jabbing the air with his fist. A spittle of words hitting the screen before she could turn him off.

Now this talk about rivers brought them back: Pops, that man who wasn’t Pops, and all the dead fish.

She reached for the remote. Only it wasn’t there and the TV continued seeping noise as she searched in between cushions and old magazines, cursing the BBC under her breath.

Why make the news so depressing? And not just the virus. There was all that Black Lives Matter stuff and people fighting over toilet rolls. Edward Colston torn from his pedestal. So much hate.

Give her nature programmes instead. Just not today’s. A presenter, his accent thick as refrigerated honey, going on about roadkill. Migrating birds mistaking snaking tarmac for rivers. Crushed to death by the relentless flow of traffic.

She covered her ears to drown him out and kept on looking.

Birds, not fish. Sometimes she got a bit mixed up. The fish had died not long after Pops, and that speech. She’d watched them float downstream, staring at her with their dead jelly eyes. But perhaps the water had been cloudy, not red.

At last, she found the remote. Pressing PAUSE, she let silence flood the room. Just her now then, and the heartbeat of a clock.

Outside, waves lapped in the harbour.

A thrush trilled, flying low over a road, wide and empty as the sea.

HIGHLY COMMENDEDEntry 5. S. Fairfax (2)

 

 

Judge's Comments:

A humorous poem reviewing life as a parent during lockdown, struggling to keep up with home schooling. It will, no doubt, resonate with parents. It was close to the brief and well written, although the meter stumbled slightly right at the end.

Confessions of a Reluctant Home-schooling Parent.

 

The days were long; my patience short;

I don’t remember all I taught…

From number lines and spelling rules,

To safety using woodwork tools;

Pythagoras and Newton’s Laws

To causes of the First World War;

Inspector Calls, and other plays

I can’t recall from my school days;

Those metaphors and similes

And habitats found under trees;

“Just make this model pyramid”,

“Copy Picasso – use a grid”;

There’s back-stitch and the colour wheel,

And Spanish to say how we feel –

I think, perhaps, we’ll leave that one

Until the working day is done!

This work – and more – while all along,

Struggling to get our own half-done…

Timetable says PE again,

But look outside – pouring with rain,

Meanwhile Child One has a Maths test –

I hope school knows she’ll do her best.

“Can’t find my book!” “What’s this?” “Where’s that?”

“Mum, she won’t give my pencil back!”

The heaps of paper piling up…

“Has anyone seen my coffee cup?”

“That Youtube link, it just won’t work.”

And now my head begins to hurt…

“The laptop’s crashed!” – third time today!

Dash it all – just go and play…

 

And on return to school – relief

That no-one came to any grief.

So hats off to the teachers now,

For all they do – we don’t know how.

But, despite the chaos, I confess,

I’d not wish for any less –

To share these steps on their learning journey

Has been Lockdown’s redeeming gift for me.