Things I did then that I hadn’t done before

Asked the neighbours if they wanted anything in my online weekly shop and
Bought yeast, flour, long-life milk and 70-per-cent-alcohol hand sanitiser and
Cut my own hair, even the bits round the back I couldn’t see, and
Disinfected plastic-wrapped perishable food and
Examined the numbers closely and
Fixed my torn trousers with fabric from an old flesh-coloured bra and
Got up earlier and went to bed earlier and kept writing my gratitude book and
Hung disposable gloves and masks on the washing line to use again and
Imagined what it was like at the care home and
Joined the local community group and
Kept two metres apart, whatever the politicians said, and
Lay awake at bedtime watching the afterglow through open curtains and
Made fresh bread for lunch, before eight in the morning, and
Noticed the blissful absence of motorway noise then its growling return and
Opened letters while wearing gloves, tipping the untouched contents out and
Put use-by dates into a spreadsheet and
Quarantined all non-perishables for three days in the garage and
Read up on the science and the economy and the predicted shortages and
Sowed onions and marrows and beans and thyme and
Took photos of spring unfurling into summer, flower by flower, and
Updated my shelter-in-place kit and
Virus-wiped the door handles and
Wished I had some high-tech combination of infra-red and
X-ray vision to spot infected people before they entered the room so that I could
Yell at them to stop – and wondered if there was any way of knowing what other
Zoonotic pathogens would make the species jump to humans, in my lifetime.


Helen Evans runs two poetry projects: Inner Room and Poems for the Path Ahead. Her pamphlet is Only by Flying (HappenStance Press); poems have appeared in The Rialto, Magma, and The North; one was a joint winner of the MC600 prize.