LOCKDOWN – Simon Armitage

And I couldn’t escape the waking dream

of infected fleas

the warp and weft of soggy cloth

by the tailor’s hearth

in ye olde Eyam.

Then couldn’t un-see

the Boundary Stone,

that cock-eyed dice with its six dark holes,

thimbles brimming with vinegar wine

purging the plagued coins.

Which brought to mind the sorry story

of Emmott Syddall and Rowland Torre,

star-crossed lovers on either side

of the quarantine line

whose wordless courtship spanned the river

till she came no longer.

But slept again,

and dreamt this time

of the exiled yaksha sending word

to his lost wife on a passing cloud,

a cloud that followed an earthly map

of camel trails and cattle tracks,

streams like necklaces,

fan-tailed peacocks, painted elephants,

embroidered bedspreads

of meadows and hedges,

bamboo forests and snow-hatted peaks,

waterfalls, creeks,

the hieroglyphs of wide-winged cranes

and the glistening lotus flower after rain,

the air

hypnotically see-through, rare,

the journey a ponderous one at times, long and slow

but necessarily so.

Simon Armitage: Poet Laureate, United Kingdom



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