So, it was you – Covid-19

I felt you coming,
months ago long before anyone
dared name you,
before anyone had a hint
of your existence,
but then I did not recognise you,
could not name you,
until now.

You slid here
on Brexit’s slipstream
unnoticed and undetected,
perhaps longer than
we will ever know,
until it was too late.

The threat of you,
or you kin,
is always with us,
waiting for the opportunity,
a careless or deliberate action,
not a few have issued warnings
over the years that fell
on deaf ears
and onto eyes blinded
by insensitivity and greed.

How do I know all this now?
I scrolled back in my memory
for experiences presaging occurrences,
major events or incidents
that caused radical alteration
on a large scale,
and going back nineteen years ago
I came to the summer before 9/11.

Here I struck paydirt,
for in reviewing the impressions
and feelings of those unsettling months,
I realised that event most closely
fitted a thing so big and world altering,
and the relief I felt in naming what I knew,
after the shock wore off.

It seems mistakenly,
I thought the dis-ease I had felt
since last autumn was all about
the scrambled energy
present here concerning
the island on which I live
severing ties with its largest neighbour,
about the effects of the
unaccountable arrogant and self-righteous
appeals to former greatness,
evoking by implication if not utterance
the time we ruled the seas
and much more land on every continent,
that we would be greater on our own.

As it turned out,
I was only partially right,
for though those ideas and energies
were surely present they were not enough,
because when the time of parting came
ever closer week by week,
the apprehension grew,
restless, anxious, fretful
energies swirled around me,
doom, fear, panic
for Brexit to be the only cause –
and how in all this I missed
the looming spectre of death
I do not know, except,
it was woven amongst the other
sensations carefully hidden.

All this changed a few days ago,
I knew then it was you,
a wraith stealing in under
the larger shadow
of our insular concerns;
perhaps, in part my confusion
came because the same issues prevail
in your wake as in the wake of Brexit:
food and border security,
international and institutional cooperation,
movement of goods and people,
loss of jobs and livelihoods –
though not the thousands of deaths,
no, they are yours alone.

Would it have helped
if I had known sooner it was you coming,
though there would have been nothing
I could do to stop you,
for was never in my power
to prevent you
breaking on these shores
any more that I could halt
the sealing of those same shores
from Europe and its misapprehended dangers,
which are nothing compared
to the dangers you brought here?

In all of this there are lessons
I have learned to apply in the future,
and there will be futures like these
for those of us who survived this time,
when individuals and governments
will make misguided choices and decisions,
for surely there will be other
pandemics, viruses and existential threats,
when other energies will crash over me,
portending death and danger,
when I trust I will remember from this time
I need to dig deeper and look farther,
to perhaps understand sooner,
what I know and thus find a way
to prepare myself and hope
I will not again be overwhelmed.

May the cures for Brexit and you
not be worse the dis-ease and disease
you both have already caused me and others,
stealing a half a year of my life,
though thankfully not ending it,
leaving me the rest of it to be
lived out in a world reshaped and unfamiliar.