Nolite Timere. A poem by Rona Fitzgerald

[Inspired by Seamus Heaney, Glasgow, April 2020]

Your unease permeates the house,
pacing around looking for tasks –
alarmed when I cough my usual cough!

We have done our best, retreating early on,
walking fast to avoid people, gloves and scarf.
You doing the shopping to protect me.

After my fall on the hills two years ago,
fright kept me quiet, anxious. Yet, bones are stronger
than asthmatic airways.

They renew, heal, and can be strengthened.
with exercise and rest. Now we do our daily round
at high speed, you like a greyhound –

me keeping up, but breathing heavily,
trying to chat, to find a place of ease.
You can’t stop to look at blue periwinkle

in Gartnavel grounds, or the surge of growth
among the trees and shrubs. You who values
knowledge, history, understanding.

This virus is just beyond our comprehension;
like an ancient evil you feel in buildings and spaces,
from concentration camps to laundries and care homes.

Deep, full of dread.

I reassure, urge you not to be fearful.
We have had a life. And yes, it’s not what we expected
for celebrating your seventieth year.

We can plan walks on our beloved hill for afterwards,
hope to see family, remain vigilant, prepared. Breathe.
We can even speak of death, as if we are not intimidated.

But we can’t entirely, hold down fear.


Rona Fitzgerald has poems in UK, Scottish, Irish and US publications. Highlights include featured poet in the Stinging Fly 2011, Aiblins: New Scottish Political Poetry 2016, Oxford Poetry XVI.iii Winter 2016-17, Poems for Grenfell Tower, Onslaught Press 2018 and #Me Too, Fair Acre Press, 2018, featured poet in the Blue Nib issue 39 September 2019, Ramingo’s Porch 2020 and essays in Blue Nib WriteNow, in March and April.

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