Funny how they ’ve learnt to isolate at last
and join the club.
To stay the two metres away, to be ‘unclean’
like the lepers of history.
How new the feeling is for them – and scary.
No telling how long they’ll manage without cracking.
But before this even, in the pubs where talk was warmer than a woman’s breath,
a two-inch gap a mile, I thought.
I’d overhear her say to friends she wouldn’t touch me with a forty-foot pole
– that set me back a lifetime!
and confirmed social distancing my way of life
long before a virus could.
Till to hope again became as unattainable for me as it is for fallen Lucifer.
Yeah, welcome to the club – isolation isn’t just for now…and passing
– it’s my universe.
(Written during the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020)
Jim Ward has previously been published for poetry in English and Irish (Cork Literary Review, Poetry Bus, Galway Advertiser, Feasta, Culture Matters’ The Children of the Nation anthology, Live Encounters) and for one short story in Irish (Feasta). His play Just Guff won ‘Best in the West’ award at Galway Fringe Festival, 2017 and has toured locally including Town Hall Studio, Galway, Kilkee Playwright Festival and Liberty Hall, Dub lin as part of MayFest 2019. His poem 2016 Proclamation was runner-up in the Galway Bay FM/Thoor Ballylee Poetry Challenge to ‘Yeats’ indomitable Irishry’ 2017. He has had three solo exhibitions of his artwork 20 Shades of Pencil Grey and some of these pieces are on display in Charlie Byrne ’s Bookshop, Club Áras na nGael and An Taibhdhearc, Galway. He has exhibited in the online magazine Dodging the Rain, Galway Cartoon Festival twice and 1916 by Local Artists. He is working on a first novel.