“How has your lockdown been?”

By: 

Jacqueline

Atta-Hayford

This poem was written for The January Challenge, a month-long series of creative challenges run by an organisation called 64 million artists that are all about promoting creativity. I wrote this about my experience during the lockdowns of 2020, my feelings and coping mechanisms while all the things that I usually do to be creative and help create a work/life balance were no longer available to me. While my experience was definitely not the worst I believe it reflects the feelings of a lot of people who struggled in 2020 and are still struggling. It's all the things you do and don't and do want to say when someone asks "how are you"?

I’ve been pouring thoughts into baking sheets
Whipping up words with eggs, flour, sugar
Making them sweet
Letting them heat and rise until they are fluffy
Digestible.
I’ve turned panic attacks into puff pastry
And tried not to worry as they burn
Just a little bit
Around the edges.

I’ve spent hours taking my worry for walks
Retracing my footsteps through the same wide-open parks
And dark, empty streets
Breathing in cold air and breathing out weeks
Of staring at the ceiling when it’s 8:30
And needing to be at work by 8:45.

I’ve sobbed in sinkfulls
And used that water to wash
And wash
And wash my hands.
I’ve sent so many Happy Birthdays down the drain.

My birthday was on the first day of Spring.
I spent it hoping we’d be “back to normal” before Halloween.
I spent Halloween trying to remember what normal feels like.
I pierced my ears, hoping the holes would let some light shine through
And in the fleeting light at the end of that tiny tunnel I dreamed
Of coffee shops and walks along the Thames and holding hands
With people who I love so much
That I will not go near them.

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