Bob Ward
Shards from a Lockdown Diary

     At the start of the first lockdown, the author, who was living in rural England,
     began to write a diary in verse form, adopting the five-line Japanese tanka.
     He kept this going for ten weeks compiling over 180 verses, which built up
     into a patchwork of experiences, where the mundane and the threatening
     constantly overlapped. This excerpt is intended to give a flavour of the entire work.

                                                                                                      June 2020
                                        Like an ink splash creeps
                                             widely through blotting paper
                                             contagion reaches
                                             into our social fibres—
                                             we become untouchable.

                                        Confined to our house
                                             we wonder how soon we’ll hear
                                             an ambulance blare
                                             through the streets of our grim town
                                             on its way to the first case.

                                        Our home’s an island
                                             now like one of those cartoons—
                                             a couple sitting
                                             on a beach who stare across
                                             vast seas of uncertainty.

                                        Fetching medicine
                                             I drive along the High Street
                                             past the silent shops
                                             slammed shut, cross-barred and bolted
                                             against all trade in disease.

                                        Three and a half hours
                                             listening to ’line engaged’
                                             to order foodstuff.
                                             But while we fret, shop heroes
                                             must scurry, scurry, scurry . . .

                                        No Bank Holiday
                                             for all those where the Front Line
                                             remains reality
                                             as they shield themselves in gowns
                                             blue like skies beyond their reach.

                                        Gorse powers the Heath
                                             with Disney colour, topped by
                                             whiffs of coconut.
                                        Rules relaxed just a little
                                             bring us back to the good Earth.

                                        The harsh winds have dropped.
                                        Hush as if a reborn world
                                             considers ‘What next?’,
                                             then a dove coos on the roof,
                                             giving the signal to start.