Love and Loss in Quarantine


Poetry by Beth Tomlin

 

Love and loss in Quarantine 

Ten of us allowed

Two meters apart 

The vicar was a friend

Of mine, and of hers She

cried and apologised That

she couldn’t hug me Said it

wasn’t in her nature To be

so far apart From the

grieving 

 

We followed the hearse

In our own cars The

flowers we’d chosen

Weren’t available Given

the pandemic 

 

Each of us took a separate pew In the

tiny crematorium chapel When we

sang morning has broken I could hear

every tremor in our voices 

 

We still had the song she wanted

Oh Jesus I have promised Still

wept as we would have Shared

memories as we would have

Grieved as we would have

 

She slept not knowing of the world outside

How much things had changed since she

passed 

 

How much had stayed the

same 


 

Remember isolation? 

I used to live alone. I had a flat with wide windows and poetry pinned to the walls. I had colourful throws on every surface; two sofas from a charity shop that someone else had already worn in for me. Delicate net curtains and tin saucepans and one of those metal hanging racks instead of a wardrobe. The flat faced the Thames, cornered in by a graveyard on one side and a train-track on the other. The rough end of town, out by the council estates, away from the artsy, literary, city of spires stuff and towards the retail parks and forgotten launderettes. The neighbours smoked outside all hours of the day; always chatty, always wanting to borrow something, always creating the background noise that made me feel less alone. I used to curl up on the sofa with a book and cup of tea and wonder how something so small like a tiny mouldy ground-floor flat could feel so much like everything I ever wanted. I had peace and space and lightness. My own company stopped feeling so much like a weight on my shoulders. I bought myself flowers. Romantically sprinkled lavender sprigs into my baths. Coming home to my little flat and sitting with myself felt like sitting with a friend. 

Isolating in a house of seven people makes you romanticise certain things

 

This poem was written in response to our Stories in the Time of Covid19 project.

 


Beth Tomlin is a twenty-four year old writer from Bolton, UK. She mostly writes for young adults but, during the pandemic, branched out to poetry and creative non-fiction. Beth is currently in lockdown with her family in Manchester. Beth is represented by the Bath Literary Agency.