Jackie Kay by Claudia Alonso (2015)

Claudia Alonso, Jackie Kay, 2015. Digital Photograph. Image courtesy of the artist.

Mask – New poem by Chancellor Jackie Kay

Professor Jackie Kay CBE, University Chancellor and Scots Makar, is sharing a series of poems with colleagues, students and members of the public, reflecting on the current period of uncertainty that we are in.

This week, Jackie has shared the poem ‘Mask’, to mark the lives of those we have lost during this pandemic.


Abbreviations we understand;
But not lives shortened.
By too few goggles, gloves, gowns,
Johnson doing a ring around,
Carers compelled to wear bin bags.
Doctors decked out in out of date masks.Time lags.

But Death has no abbreviation. No hiding place.
Wash your hands! Don’t touch your face!
Don’t listen. Close your ears. Don’t test, test, test.
We will come to know your names-
Our carers, nurses, doctors, our NHS.
And we will mask our heads in shame.

Copyright Jackie Kay. Reprinted with kind permission from the author.

Follow Jackie on Twitter @JackieKayPoet to hear a new poem every Sunday.

May 2020