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Disconnected

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A series of paper ballerinas some have been cut in half or had their heads cut off

Can I be semi-shielding? Like a semi-fledged bird, I’m not actually ready to leave my shelter. I’ve had a trial run leading up to this – a healthcare check that sees me approach the edges of town. Town is not reassuring. It is busier than I’d anticipated.

I wear a mask and eye protection. I notice 6 other people with masks, 5 of them men. Young people seem, superficially, to be over it already, clumped together, carelessly laughing in each other’s faces. People seem suddenly to remember their social distancing when they see my mask. Some move away from me as I move away from them. Others lunge at me, muttering.

There were people obviously struggling. A person kicking at kerbs, walls, lampposts; swearing and muttering – a woman, moving purposefully in random directions, raging, shouting at no one in particular – a man, tense and jumpy, huddled protectively over a shopping trolley, eyes focused low on his immediate surroundings. Isolated people. In a devastatingly disconnected environment. Who are we all? What and where is community in this new order? And how do we communicate?

Do we try? Or do we make our new world in tiny pockets of isolation. Is anybody there? This is not a familiar place.

Speak and we will listen.
Humanity, kindness, begins
in the void, but grows
with the sharing. Hope
plays hide and seek
with the ravages of loss,
and laughter hesitates
between the broken spaces.
This is who I am
and asking, who are you?
What is left in your heart
and what has spilled
into our universe of shared space?
Will I find you in the words
you have yet to recreate?

Speak, whisper, sing
and if you have the breath to rage
then roar. Love, laughter or loss;
pain, injustice or joy;
moments of wonder.
Listen, but do not stay silent.
Utter your sounds,
the universe is asking.

This is who I am
and asking, who are you?

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Richard Downes
10 months ago

I am here. Isolated, shielded, shielding. Yet free to travel to communities gathered on facebook, bought to life by zoom, available to skype. The act of communal communications remains important to me, maybe more important whilst distant.

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