Philip Dunkerley is an active member of open mic communities in Peterborough and Stamford. He is the Poetry Society representative for the Stamford Stanza and runs a U3A Poetry Group in Bourne, where he lives. His poems have been published in Magma, Orbis, Dream Catcher, The Fenland Reed, Ink Sweat and Tears, Obsessed With Pipework, The Blue Nib, and elsewhere. His translations from Portuguese and Spanish, and poetry reviews, have been published in Orbis. His work has appeared in several anthologies, including Poems for Peace with a forward by Benjamin Zephaniah.
And when the butterfly flapped its wings
on an awning of the wet-market in Wuhan,
that slight turbulence of the air wafted
a single particle of newly-mutated virus
into the stream of air being inhaled
just then by the simple stall holder.
And that’s how it began, the hurricane
now sweeping the world, battering
society, blowing jobs away, demolishing
supply lines, scattering fear and greed,
overturning morality, destroying concern
about climate change and petty politics.
So we live, so we re-evaluate priorities,
so we learn the beauty of simple things,
so we become more self-reliant,
and learn to help and be helped.
So we remember how fortunate we were
and out of chaos start to remake our lives.
Love in the Time of Virus
– for RTC and the rest of the NHS
Everywhere we go, references to war –
my friend David, 94, remembering the air raids,
my aunt of 97 remembering the blackout,
everyone pulling together, coming through.
Today another enemy assails us –
invisible, this time, but now, tonight,
it brings us to stand outside our homes,
alone in darkness, in this empty street,
in a quiet suburb of an English market town.
We’re going to make a gesture, only a gesture,
supporting our troops fighting at the front,
fighting on our behalf, fighting silently
in gloves, and gowns and masks,
risking themselves, fighting to save our lives.
We watch the time, the seconds tick away,
the coming moment, almost 8 o’clock.
And then, suddenly, somewhere nearby,
we hear somebody clapping; we clap too.
Strange echos run among the houses, sounds
these our homes have never heard before.
Under shining stars and watching street lights,
we look, but see no one. Only clapping –
from there and there, and, listen, over there!
And then we know that people everywhere
are taking part, across the darkened land.
We’re telling ourselves, telling the country too,
that come what may, cost what it may cost,
we’re here for each other, we are here.
We stand together.
Footnote: The title is adapted from the novel by Gabriel Garcia Márquez – ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’.