I cup the bar of soap and pray:
The bar is trenchant in my palm,
a transcendental weight to calm
my terror like a psalm.
One lather of White Lotus.
Our shield against the virus.
Our lance to counter loss.
I sense the malice of the stain
to drown your lungs
with sticky rain.
I hear the tickle in your throat
begin to roar,
begin to bloat.
I scour my wrists and feel the scald.
I fear your masked
convulsions in the ward.
For now, we bicker and we cope.
For now, we scrub our nerves with soap.
It starts with a shrug,
the faintest swerve –
polarising of bodies.
One sheepish look
four, three, two –
step a gallant,
On every path,
waltz of preening
all in dry
‘Spirit of the Blitz’
So we swerve,
dance off in our sweet distances,
coffins of personal
There is no fire but locust.
The song ricochets, wall to wall,
One constant, sharp,
of panic. Prophesy.
The world’s batteries are running flat,
They’ve been burning out for years –
with the tiny, operatic death-cries
of devices that just
call and call.
I’m sick of the stillness, the beeping.
I weep like Saul,
plagued by a spirit, harsh and small –
and this is how all kingdoms fall.
There is no fire. There is no war.
There is no mind but locust.