Kate Rigby

Dying Incidentally in Lock Down There were no exceptions. We had thought to visit a dying man,a non-infectious, non-contagious,non-contentious dying man,swimming up through the oromorph. They are so old, these friendship ties,barely frayed. They bind us still,as his kind soft hands rest on the edge of life. Touch is forbidden, this much we know –the … More Kate Rigby

Caroline Sheppard

Island On Wednesdays he leaves the IslandA trip to the mainland to get our shopping.The wake from our little boatComes back to me on the shore.I whisper a prayerAnd then I feel foolish.When he returnsHe tells me how the world is.The images mix in my head with my anxietyLike the weed and brambles on the … More Caroline Sheppard

Sue Burge

Glow Alexanders are legion in the hedgerow, girding my shrunken world with lime-green early sweetness; broken stalks leak tangy sap – Roman celery.  The lacy heads are starting to seed, spikier now, and everything this shape – dandelion heads, thistles – anything that hooks and sticks, evokes our invisible enemy – magnified on every screen.  An artist … More Sue Burge

Orson

Downderry Moor is Empty The horizon is a considered slant of birch and gorse. It has been without disruption since the fox and its cubs, active last Monday. Inside, I’m now more aware of movement and my eye is surprised by the flash of freckles that is my arm, shifting from horizontal indolence. I shriek … More Orson

Valerie Griffin

NoShoulder to Cry On Ifell over yesterday. Lying there, on the crazy paving between the veg beds,with nobody to help me up, I had a little cry. It was just the shock. Nothing’sbroken…except my spirit. I didn’t say anything last night when you rang as Icould tell from your voice you were exhausted from another … More Valerie Griffin

James Northern

An Outpouring of Altruism There are eight of them clustered around the main entrance, cigarettes in hand. Barely a metre between them, never mind two. “Excuse me.” Not a flicker. As I squeeze past, a faux cough in my ear, hot breath on my cheek. Laughter. In the warmth of my flat, I put the … More James Northern

Michele Witthaus

Fever dream Last night, I dreamed that I went to church.When I arrived, the pews were full.I gazed at the mass of solemn, expectant faces.I found a seat in the corner, some distance from the crowdbut was called up nonetheless.They pronounced my name wrongyet I did not correct it.Fixing a tiny microphone to my collar, … More Michele Witthaus

Claire Dean

Making dens My youngest came in and asked what I was doing. Den, I said. I’d crawled under the coffee table in my bedroom. Only my self-cut hair and an ankle swollen from homeschool PE escaped its bounds. You have to make it better than that, was his response. He returned with one of my … More Claire Dean

Nicola Ashbrook

Batten Down The Hatches Block out the news; the multiplying. Zoom in. A whole world exists within this boundary: a school in the kitchen now, a pub in the front room, shops in the computer, friends on the phone. Husband commutes to the garden; children down the stairs. Unqualified, I tackle the curriculum. And together … More Nicola Ashbrook

Kristen Simental

Hunger and Loneliness Things almost never go according to plan. Once the terror wears off, you imagine learning new languages, maybe going for an online degree, catching up with old friends, changing your hair, spending quiet afternoons in a sunny window reading The Odyssey. Now is the time. You challenge yourself. You finally update your website, … More Kristen Simental