On bended knees
These days, I hear birds
Instead of planes
I see people thinking in windowsills
As I watch the sun shining where dark clouds once stood.
These days, I finally get to enjoy the sweet aroma of silence,
as it percolates through the air mixing with delicious spring-like fragrances.
I no longer hear grunting trucks hiccupping dark-coloured plumes,
nor oversized coaches hollering at screeching, impatient cars.
These days, the air floats more boldly – freely,
Unhindered by gloomy artificial clouds;
and the skies stare back at me with genuine blue smiles.
These days, I can watch plants grow in my garden,
and marvel at trees flourishing with tasty blossoms
while children play on balconies, surrounded by their parents’ laughter.
Work has stopped, partially. Suddenly;
factories, shops, and high streets, all set on pause.
Motorways, highways, alleyways and parks now stroll.
They can taste the fresh, clean oxygen of silence,
as people find time for family, to pray.
Yet loved ones – in the thousands succumb – separated and alone.
They leave us unannounced; rushed into hasty farewells,
without words, goodbyes, fanfare or ceremony.
They may even lie nameless, unrecognized in mass vaults.
I also see people erecting cages to barricade life in homes with burglar bars
made from pre-packaged food.
I see fear camped on neighbours’ eyes;
uncertainty etched on the faces of strangers,
rushing to the other side of the pavement;
Afraid, sanitized behind cloth masks;
studying others from careful distances –
now that space, time, contact and emotions are rationed.
I hear the sober stillness of silence
and I can feel each heartbeat as I pray and pray and pray again for those who are mine.
I say prayers also for those filled with dread,
but compelled by courage and duty to defy death, to rescue life
and breathe oxygen into the future.
I hear reports of deaths in multiples;
but each loss is a multiple of one –
a mother, father, brother, sister,
husband, wife, partner, son, daughter, niece, nephew,
grandma, grandpa, uncle, auntie, cousin, friend, colleagues.
All orphans of yesterday.
I can finally hear the birds.
I can finally listen to children’s laughter
and watch streets grow quiet.
I can finally listen to the lonely piano down the street.
And hear the gentle hum of a desolate guitar teasing old tunes
But, through the silence,
I can also hear quiet screams of sadness
Echoed within hushed, watchful walls –
A certain breathlessness –
leaping from hospital wards, ambulances…care homes –
like prayers of peoples;
on bended knees
fighting for tomorrow.