After a wait, the locked ward doors open,
I sit in the empty waiting room,
an orange with no reason, sits in the middle of a table,
black, blue, orange, yellow plastic chairs,
stare at one another in the electric glare,
the stopped wall clock doesn’t move.
Without warning you stand in front of me,
so we glide through open doors,
the outside doors, wedged with a spoon,
gapes, wordless, as we walk into fresh air.
Free from the overcooked swill stink,
that wafts and sticks to every corridor,
in the sunshine and bright blue skies,
you say it’s good to be alive.
On the bridge wall moss grows,
orange anthers glow in sun bright haze,
that arrests your mind, you smile,
and for the present you are back.
I asked you what poem you would be,
“Angelic” — you say without a moment’s thought,
and you recite your words unhindered,
line after line as you walk, through Birch trees,
in the golden light of a late afternoon
I walk you back to the spoon jammed door.
But what will tomorrow bring?
There is talk now, and possibly a growing awareness of the impact of lock downs on children’s mental health and the wider population as a whole. Covid has brought about huge changes involving social isolation. But also brought about by a population fixatedly watching social media for some form of social interaction.
The risk of depression from dependence on social media was noted as a significant phenomena prior to covid. The onset of the social shutdown seems to have enhanced the impact of a reliance on artificial communication rather than “solid state” communication, skin on skin contact, touching and the reassurance that closeness with our own kind brings. In Wales there is a word “cwtch” which is that cradling in the arm of a baby in her mothers shawl, the comforting taking in of kith and kin at times of trauma. We yearn for that comforting touch, for the reassurance and soothing it brings at a time of need.
“Cwtch” is also that place under the stairs of a small house; a place of shelter when the bombs fell; a place to hide in those winter games when the weather outside was so bad, the incessant rain, children avoided going out: a place to store objects and things that would be useful later, you didn’t know what for, but they would, without doubt be useful one day, maybe.
“Cwtch” the feel of your mothers arms holding you tight, and sending that message- it’ll be alright.
Rob Cullen artist, writer, poet. Rob runs “Voices on the Bridge” a poetry initiative in Wales. Walks hills and mountains daily with a sheep dog at his side.
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