When this is all over: Day 5


After Eilean Ni Chuilleanain’s ‘Swineherd’


When all this is over, said the explorer,

I’ll find my kaftan and open-toed sandals,

twist my tagelmust onto my head, pack

water, factor 50, dark glasses.


I’ll hail a camel, climb up between its humps,

pray I’m not seasick on our voyage into the desert.

We’ll follow corrugated tracks over the stony plateau,

turn our backs on dust storms and tourists.


The days will shimmer and I’ll chew figs,

drink mint tea brewed in a pot on a stove

at the edge of our path. Three green glasses 

at one sitting. We must move on. 


At night, I’ll shake out my clothes, my stiff legs,

lie in a scoop of sand under constellations

I can’t name, a nomad at sea in heatwaves, salt.

I will trust only the camel and go on.



after Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin


When all this is over and Covid-Bayeux 2020/21 declared complete

I shall leave my confined space with its fine stretchered linen

and woollen threads in every shade; I shall stop working spheres 

with stem stitch and couching — spheres I have observed 

with their particular hues, their colour variations captured

in my sketchbook along with samples worked with crewels —

I shall leave off embellishing those beautifully terrifying spheres

with their perfectly contrasting peplomers in French knots,

bullions, beading; with sequins and metallic threads; yes,

I shall stop all of this and go to where my machine’s

been waiting this long time and thread it up with best polyester;

I’ll lower the feed dogs, set tension to five and place a hoop 

of taut poplin under the 90/14 needle; press my foot

to the pedal and free motion my way out of all this.



(The Fashionista).

when all this is over

said the fashionista

I will flare again


I will zoom to Milan

and work the crowd

if I live

my style will be viral

until I pass on

if I live

if I can

crowned queen of trend

myself forever

if I live

if I can

if I want


but why wait at all

said the fashionista

my mask is so now


Firework maker 


When all this is over said the firework maker 

they will be calling me back

to load the gunpowder spaces in grey tubes

in a coat of carnival names.


There will be an explosion far from my home.

Both my ears will have turned deaf

to anything but the softer sounds

of You are my sunshine, breath


in a penny whistle promenade.

I will lie on the beach learning the language

of plane trails in a silent sky.

We will talk only of lining and piping. 


In the forest I will pick up a crab like a china cup and saucer.

Pink wafers will crumble between my teeth.

Under my fingernails forbidden warm tar 

will paint petrol perfume on the skipping rope handles.


I’ll follow the flanks of the great brown horse 

leading the canopied red milkcart 

as it disappears round the corner. 

Listen — the wren’s tremolo fills the wych-elm. 


I really liked the idea of learning the language of con trails….particularly since I live below one of the busiest long-distance flight ‘junctions’ in Europe, and I’ve learned again what a silent sky really is. I hope you’re all enjoying this as much as I am. More tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow…

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