Pandemic Petulance. A poem by Cat Hogan

I want to feel guilty about swearing at the windscreen and telling the little old man tootling along without a care in the world in his Micra on a sunny Tuesday morning to stop driving like it’s a feckin’ Sunday. I’m cutting it fine. I have to stop for diesel and sure, I’ll have to get a coffee for the trip. The usual.
I want to dash around the supermarket choosing as I go what we’re having for dinner and skipping the wine because it’s a school night and deciding a cooked chicken is the best option.
I want to drop the boys to athletics but time will be tight between me finishing work and picking them up from after school.
I want to write a note to the teacher, again, excusing them from having their homework done.
I want to sit on my mam’s sofa and drink tea while I listen to my sister grumble at the teen for dropping Tayto crumbs on the carpet while nanny smiles and slips him a Kitkat.
I want to look out the window in Dec and Lorna’s kitchen, watch the birds at the feeder and put the world to rights over strong tea and good craic.
I want to stop guessing about when things will come back to normal.
I want to stop washing my hands
And groceries
And bannisters
And any other surface a human hand can reach.
I want to write. To catch the words that torpedo into my mind in the middle of the night but I’m too exhausted from the low hum of a constant state of fight-or-flight to sit up and find a pen.
I want the tears to stop but I don’t want the tears to stop because when they do, we’ll have gotten used to this.
I want to stop the heartbreak for more families every day.
I’m trying.
Aren’t we all?
I want to stop the daily increases.
I want to put my foot through the telly and the radio each time I hear a voice shorten it to ‘Covid’ like a pet name, like a fucking term of endearment.
I want to forever more erase the term ‘underlying health condition’ and get rid of all the buzzwords we’re using, dropping vector and epidemiology and virologist into conversation as casually as one would ask for cream with their scone.
I want to spam the conspiracy theorists and the crackpots with pictures of medical staff, faces bruised by masks and black bags under their eyes from the prospect of making those impossible decisions.
I want to stop the out of body experiences when, for the shortest while, I’m distracted enough to forget about what’s happening and then I remember.
I want the numbers to stop rising.
I want the numbers to stop rising.
I want,
I want,
I want.
I want the leaves to turn brown and the evenings to close in.
Maybe then we can breathe.


Cat Hogan is the author of They All Fall Down and the BGEIBA nominated crime fiction of the year There Was A Crooked Man.

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