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21st Century Poetry The Primrose Witness

by Emma Lee

The primroses add a pale pop of colour to the lawn
where slumbering grass provided shelter from the wind,
which this time was blameless as the aeroplanes it carried
spread infection, and fibre optics transported myths:
drink hot water, avoid petrol pumps, don't touch mail,  
images of newborns shown to grandparents through windows,  
and individual elderly people looking at empty shop shelves.
 
A breeze ruffles the primrose's leaves. Spring sunshine
nudges open clouds and prompts petals to open.
Whatever action a government takes will be criticised
by armchair epidemiologists who urge lock down, ignoring
the employer who insists you work or lose your job,  
the landlord who insists on rent despite getting a mortgage holiday,
if events are cancelled, those who make them happen aren't paid.
 
The primrose continues to flower untrampled by those  
who suddenly discover the balm of country walks, undisturbed  
by those who schedule home-schooling, boast of time to learn
new skills, swap social media feeds with links to tutorial videos,
a new way of leaving behind those still delivering goods, stacking  
shelves, preparing meals, transporting and caring, who won't  
get the special shopping hours or applause for health workers.
 
The primrose curls in its petals to rest before the new day.  
A bank of daffodils hopes for respite from the buffeting breezes,  
leaves whisper gossip about which flowers were visited by bees,  
the grass alternates between dreams of a plague of lawnmowers
and plots for revenge or acquiring the tenacity of brambles.
A ghostly nightshift keeps the lights on, connections moving,  
put stock where it needs to be so tomorrow will be business as usual.

Emma Lee’s publications include The Significance of a Dress (Arachne, 2020). She is reviews editor for The Blue Nib.

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