Wales Arts Review asked some of Wales’s top writers to pen some thoughts on the future. This new series brings together a wide variety of perspectives and ideas in a vibrant array of styles and forms, expressing hopes for a new way of doing things when the Covid-19 coronavirus is finally overcome. Political, personal, sociological, ecological, cultural – this is an evolving tableau of ideas. Here, Philip Gross offers ‘The morning after, waking’, a poem about perspective, about how we as a society might reconfigure the way we look at those most valuable to us, be them family, neighbours or strangers.
The morning after, waking,
from… What? The world was all there,
as is, but every distance between us was huge.
And yet we seemed to see things,
and each other, clearer than before:
how we would pass in the street,
each re-enacting the biblical ‘pass by
on the other side’… but with a nod,
an un-committing smile, a curtsey in the dance,
the radical equality, when each might
just be carrying (we always are)
our own, each other’s, death
or sustenance; when the see-through
shelf-stacker in Tesco, only noticed before
as something in your momentary way,
or the driver easing down his lorry’s tail-lift
with its slow leaky-lung wheeze,
might be a ministering sub-angel. (Not
one of the shining grand ones, true,
but what price anybody’s grandeur now?)
The morning we’ll wake, blinking,
wondering which was truer,
that dream, or the dream before,
called Normal – all we had believed
would be for ever. Superstitions. Waking,
maybe, in a clarity that takes our breath away
with choice. A moment on the threshold,
if we dare to see.
Check out the other articles from Wales Arts Review’s ‘When This is Over’ Series.
Philip Gross has published twenty poetry collections, including four for children, and won many of the major awards in British poetry, from the National Poetry Competition to the TS Eliot Prize.