Lockdown: A Portrait

To protect your skin, Lockdown wears
a shapeless cotton dress. Lockdown thinks
it used to be navy, but sunlight
has bleached it a drab, nameless blue –
leaving no patches of vibrant colour,
it is uniform in its lifelessness.

It smells of coconut suncream and,
if you bury your nose in its folds,
of sea salt, sand and stale beer
from holidays across the waters.

On your feet, Lockdown wears trainers
that squeak with every step – after a turn
in the washing machine to loosen
the stink of sweat, the soles came apart
and were badly glued back together.

Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.
Lockdown paces the small cube of concrete
that calls itself a garden.
Sweat runs down your spine.
The heat is asphyxiating,
tunnelled down from a sky as periwinkly
as the sea Lockdown hungers for,
so vividly you can feel the cool water
lapping over your toes.

In the morning, Lockdown is a horizon
beyond the city, parched, bleached fields
praying for rain. Somewhere, a heavy door creaks
and slams shut.



Nicola Heaney is a poet from Northern Ireland. Her work has been published in a number of journals including The North, Poetry Birmingham, Crannog and she has twice been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2019 and 2020.    She has co-authored Ulster Fairytales & Legends with Peter Heaney .  Twitter: @heaney28.