Developing Writers

Holly Peters after lockdown entry 4 – still adjusting

21st April 2022

This diary entry marks the final entry in Mayflower 400 Young City Laureate Holly Peters’ lockdown diaries, commissioned in partnership by Plymouth Culture and Literature. Here, Holly reflects on her previous entries and where we are now…

Still Adjusting

The first diary entry I wrote was called
Adjusting. Adjusting to changes that just seven months ago
were hard to ever imagine. It was all new, scary, almost apocalyptic.
It feels so long ago. The way time
knots and stretches, tangles in and over itself.

But how have we adjusted? Settling into the past
tense while keeping a firm eye on
the future as it quickly morphs into the present.

There are things I notice that strike me,
like walking past schools as parents wait to
pick up their children claiming their own
segments of the pavement
like words spaced across a page.
Or the colourful assortment of masks as the sea of people
flow across the mall in a clockwise direction.
Headlines that surely should be false, except prove not to be.

“Have you scanned the QR code?” Track and Trace.

“I’ve emailed you the Zoom password.”
University welcome lecture. Stuttering
over poor connection and hoping the internet keeps up.
Working it out as we go.

“There were this many cases in the UK today,”
says mum in the middle of a film.
The second wave picking up speed.

“The rule of six.” My unlucky number.
The month my little brother was born in.
The highest number of a dice.
Is it still a perfect number?

I started writing these entries as we were adjusting
to the empty streets, empty shelves in supermarkets,
the empty days.
Daily broadcasts and a series of graphs that begged to avoid all of this.
I started writing these
during a time of uncertainty
and a threateningly calm kind of chaos.

I write this final entry during a similar time.
During a new normal where reality resumed but the virus didn’t disappear.
The television, the radio, the papers, conversations in the street –
they throw blame around hoping
there will be somewhere it can stick.
As we stumble through days and weeks waiting to fall.
To fall into another lockdown.

I reread the words I wrote in April.
The ones about the first address from the Prime Minister
where a national lockdown was announced.

Only days ago, the Prime Minister addressed the nation again,
the same wilting flag in the background,
the same tired eyes.
A curfew.
Working from home.
Desperate to keep the normality as much as we can
to fight the loneliness and isolation.

We still haven’t escaped that uncertainty
or the threateningly calm kind of chaos.

Autumn draws in, October creeping up on us.
The sounds of crunching leaves
beneath our feet and raindrops bouncing off the roof of cars.
Sending the summer clothes to the back of the wardrobe.

The summer slipping away with a sigh.
If you look back, you’ll see blank gaps
where memories were supposed to be.
A summer of simplistic adventures,
finding new ways to pass the time.
A summer of history and distance.

Autumn promises its own challenges:
colder weather, darker nights.
It reminds us that winter is on its way,
but then again,
so is the spring.

Thank you HollyWords: Holly Peters

This entry is an extension of collaborative commission by Plymouth Culture and Literature Works. It has been reproduced from the original, posted here.