Jackie Kay by Claudia Alonso (2015)

Jackie Kay by Claudia Alonso (2015) University of Salford Art Collection

Jackie Kay – New poetry in response to Covid-19 crisis

Professor Jackie Kay CBE, University Chancellor and Scots Makar has written a series of poems reflecting on the current period of uncertainty we find ourselves in.

During this unprecedented time, the arts may help to bring us some comfort and offer a welcome distraction from the news. The poems that Jackie has written and video recorded will be shared online over the course of the next few weeks.

“This is a testing time for us all and I think taking the opportunity to be as creative as you can be and doing things differently might have some lasting and positive consequences for our whole planet.
“I hope you can find some silver linings from it – like learning a new language or learning how to bake, write a poem, or make a short film. I will be writing a few poems during this crisis and I will be sharing some of these over the course of the next few weeks.”
– Professor Jackie Kay CBE


STILL

My 89-year-old mum is in a Care Home, like many of our mums and dads and grandparents and great grandparents. And like many of us, I found this Mother’s Day particularly poignant. I wrote this poem after a conversation with my mum on the phone when she was referring to the eerie stillness outside, like a zombie movie with no zombies in it, she said, one of those Sci Fi films. (I couldn’t find a way to get that line into the poem!) It’s frustrating communicating with the old and hard of hearing only by phone! I asked her if she wanted me to send up her own iPad and she said, ‘oh that would be soothing on my eyes.’ I said not that kind of eye pad! She said, oh that kind, well seeing you would be soothing on my eyes too!

So still, so still, still, still

My mother says down the line from Glasgow

As if, from her Care Home window,

She sees the eerie worry of the world; the chill,

The deserted squares, the empty streets,

The half-shut bars, sad theatres,

Packed hospitals, gold-dust ventilators

School kids in lockdown, no exams to meet…

The whole world is going down, she said,

And I’m not going to Hell. Well, still.

We’ll have to take each day, be grateful

Thankful for small mercies, the three crows on the wall.

See the silver linings till we meet again, she said,

Yes, I said, but she couldn’t hear a single thing I said,

Except when I shouted I love you. I love you, precious,

she said.  Then the line went dead.

Copyright Jackie Kay.

Reprinted with kind permission of the author