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The best and worst of us


IMAGE: Mixed media collage - a boat in foreground, tower block and castle to rear

On deck, late sun, early evening,

listening to the ooze and swish

of the river trickling out through the mud

no one is going to say it out loud.


Here death is for now at least,

one degree of separation away.

The estuary keeps its counsel

of highs and lows, the soothe

of the waves a blanket

we huddle under,

the real world muffled.


The tide could teach us all we need

to know about duality; a

counterweight

about how without opposites

we cease to be useful

how in these ‘unprecedented times’

exists the best and worst of us.


See how easily we unite

against a common foe,

how quickly we regroup

it's not so much about glass houses and stones

as the battlements and castles

of those who draw up their moats


while lies spread their spores

as quickly as the virus

but even the headlines confirm

postcodes and skin tone

will dictate the odds,


the first casualties

always on the frontline

or piled in flats

that block all the sun

cities bloom overcrowding like mould,

space to breathe is a dream


whispered on estates

with few exits

and even fewer working lifts,

when the caged can stand it no more

they flock to the parks for air,

castigated for wanting what everyone wants.


This afternoon the sun blazed,

no one told the river not to twinkle

that its glitter was an inappropriate response

we’re in this together

only some of us have bigger boats.

And lifejackets. And flares.


No one escapes being scared,

plagued by low level anxiety

but in the face of friends in London

who count bereavements plural, triple, four no sevenfold

here even our fears and regrets

are luxuries.


Writing by CHARLOTTE ANSELL


Artwork by FRANCES EDWARDS

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