I thought we’d meet in Island Bay
on a park bench facing the sea.
Well, you two on it, in your safe bubble
with us three standing, two metres away.
There’d be coffee poured from the flask
steaming against the strait’s new ice
and muffins with feijoa’s soap-sweet grit.
We’d inhale the aroma, lift our masks.
In lock down, I can’t mistakenly slip
on the mussel-kelp-anemone rock
and the soft creased surface of your cheeks
cannot be surprised by my bursting lips.
Numb and Absurd have morning
and there is small relief.
Boris has gone to hospital.
Donald is lost, will lose.
Scotland’s chief medical officer,
Catherine and our Health Minister, David
have apologised for breaking
their own rules. The Queen, Elizabeth
calls for stoicism and self-discipline.
The iwi from Uawa are dancing
on the checkpoint line, in rainbow chiffon
wings, totally winning.
Craig from Solly’s lorries says all loos
are closed on his route from Mataura
to Ashburton but he makes it in time
yet the journo presses him – just take us
through this – what did this feel like?
I am looking in the mirror at the small
purulent pimple on my chin
wondering why on earth at my age?
I am thinking of people with nothing
in the fridge and no safe haven.
I am loading the dishwasher too unlovingly
and chip the willow-green bowl my mother
made at a pottery nightclass way back
when all we ever caught off each other
were colds, mumps, chickenpox, headlice
and it was wickedly easy
to make ourselves burp, or cry.
Nicola Easthope (Pākehā, tangata Tiriti) is a teacher, poet and cheerleader for teen activism, from the Kāpiti Coast. Her two collections are leaving my arms free to fly around you (Steele Roberts, 2011) and Working the tang (The Cuba Press, 2018), and individual poems have been published in Aotearoa, Australia, Scotland and the U.S. She was a guest of the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2012, the Tasmanian Poetry Festival in 2018, and a couple of very cool LitCrawl seasons in Pōneke. You can find more of her work on gannet ink