“Love in the time of Covid-19”

Have a poem, with the aforementioned cliched title, filmed on my webcam complete with the noises of both my mum and dad in separate skype-meetings upstairs. I was only supposed to be home for a couple of days, but then the travel ban hit and now I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back to my uni town. Now we’re three people all trying to do our separate jobs in one house with strangely few doors and a lot of open doorways; it’s not the best solution, but we’re making do. And to be fair, I’d much rather be here right now than isolated all alone in a student flat. Take care of each other, folks.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is waving at each other from across the street
is walking two meters apart
is «I’ll leave your groceries on the porch, take care».

Love in the time of Covid-19
is travel bans and cancelled plans and waterfall worries and loneliness.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is creating an everyday in cramped houses
is home office landscapes and nurseries in living rooms
is a kettle constantly boiling in the kitchen.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is empty streets and darkened towns and school grounds void of children.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is learning to be productive in a new normal
is being together by being apart
is showing we care by breaking the chain.

Love in the time of Covid-19 is a team effort, a global population staying inside, a world worth of shoes left waiting by the door.  

Love in the time of Covid-19
is making the best of strange days to come,
strange days we won’t know how to handle
strange days we never even dreamed of.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is singing together through open windows
is lighting candles for people we do not know
is gathering in applause in houses across the nation.   

Love in the time of Covid-19
is staying inside today so others can see tomorrow
it is solidarity
it is compassion.
it is a choice.

-Andrea

“Oysters”

The docks are left in 

drift wood pieces shoved ashore,

the fallen in the autumn storms.

All that’s left of seagrass beds and hide and seek rocks

is saltwater from unfamiliar seas.

The crabs don’t feed on blue mussels anymore,

as oysters far from home are eating them out of their houses,

and the days of scraped knees and saltwater hair

are dragged to sea by autumn’s current.

Image by Robert Nathan Garlington from Pixabay

-Andrea

“As she sets in the West, you’re in the Eastern sun”

(English above and Norwegian below the picture)

Your eyes have seen the sun rise on 90 days,
you have felt the dust of three months on soft skin.
The woman holding you has gathered the days of war in her lungs,
and where her memories are now smoke signals not even she knows how to decipher,
her hands still tell her brain how to hold your little body so you won’t fall,
how to shield you from the world she has fought and conquered
and forgotten.

By the nursing home kitchen table
she’s got no notion that dark coffee will scold her own mouth,
but she moves the cup away from you,
”careful so he doesn’t burn himself.”

Suddenly, her language returns,
her voice is the voice of the woman who has been hiding
in the back of her heart
since the turn of the decade.

She has held so many children safe in her arms,
cured the scrapes of playground battles
and lulled sobbing nightmares to sleep with lullabies she can’t recall ever
knowing.

But holding you in hands that have held rationing cards –
knitting needles –
dried apple slices and one way tickets –
the lady in the back of her heart breaks the surface of forgotten memories,
takes a big gulp of air
and looks at the world
with her own eyes
once more.

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay 

Hun går ned i vest, men du er i Østensola

Du har sett 90 dager komme og gå,
du har følt solnedgangen og støvet legge seg over tre måneder.
Hun som holder deg har hatt krigens dager i lungene,
og der minnene hennes nå har blitt røyksignaler hun ikke klarer å tolke lenger,
har hun det fortsatt i henda; hvordan hun skal holde deg så du ikke faller,
hvordan verne deg fra en verden hun allerede har utfordret, bekjempet og glemt.

Hun vet ikke lenger at kaffen, den er varm,
at den brenner alt den kommer borti om du lar den,
men hun flytter raskt koppen vekk fra deg.
«Forsiktig,» sier hun, «så han ikke brenner seg.»

Der stillheten har rådet,
er plutselig språket hennes tilbake.
Nå er stemmen hennes stemmen til kvinnen som har gjemt seg bort på bakerste rad i ryggmargen hennes de siste ti årene.

Hun har holdt så mange barn trygge i sterke armer,
vært Akela for gater fulle av nabo-unger, 

kurert de falne etter utallige slag for lekeplassen, 

og vugget gråtende mareritt i søvn med godnattsanger hun ikke lenger kan huske å ha glemt.

Men der hun holder deg,
holder deg trygt og hardt og samtidig så forsiktig,
i hender som har knuget rasjoneringskort,
manøvrert strikkepinner,
lurt unna tørkede epleskiver og ikke sluppet taket i enveisbilletten til ei ukjent framtid,
da kommer hun fram,
damen fra bakerste rad i ryggmargen.

Hun bryter overflaten der røyksignalene ligger tjukt.
Hun legger hodet bakover,
puster krigen ut av lungene,
og for første gangen på så veldig lenge,
ser hun med egne øyne
på en verden hun trodde hun hadde glemt.

-Andrea

“I get it” by Harvey Randall

Coffee soaked into the roof of a mouth
whilst rain rallies itself outside
strawberry fudge melting between teeth
fingertips on the back of a neck.
The mist outside falls
into the bottom of the mug
coalescing white smoke
condensate heart on a window
is this what it is meant to feel like?

Image by analogicus from Pixabay

-Harvey Randall

“Carrot Cake Counting”

Right now you’re on a coach,
somewhere between a forest and a mountain
on your way to another country,
and if that’s not ridiculous, I don’t know what is.

I have to remind myself that you are going home,
that I do not own you or your time,
that carrot cake and Tuesday mornings
and “have a lovely day at work” isn’t our norm,
just yet.

For now our norm is plane tickets and good night messages,
FaceTime birthday songs and counting.
Always counting.

Counting days,
counting weeks,
counting months.

Image by Sofia Iivarinen from Pixabay 


-Andrea

“I’m building a home”

I’m building a home 
on Tuesday’s laundry and broken light bulbs.

I’ve spent so long balancing on top of the
return to sender-confidence
that I toppled over and hit my head,
but I’ll clean the place up before you come over –
I swear.

Do you want to stay the night?
I can make a bed for you!
Oh, just remember to beat out yesterday’s daydreams,
they like to keep people awake, you see.

And if you want a cup of tea,
I make an okay ginger and lemon.
But please excuse me for a second;
ambitions keep dusting up the bottom of my mugs.

If you do come around,
I’ll welcome you with a marching band’s drumroll,
to my fort of dirty dishes and expired parking tickets.
Just don’t expect too much from me,
when you arrive with your shirt fresh off the ironing board
and your briefcase full of documents and signatures.

I’m still trying to divide my socks from my spoons from my groceries,
And I’m doing my best.  

Photo by Pexels at Pixabay

-Andrea

“Starry nights at sea”

I swim through quiet waves of evening,
enveloped by lazy currents.
I am not afraid of the water.

As a swallow graces the surface, droplets falling from its wing,
I think of all the lives lived by this fjord before me.
Women wrapping their shawls tighter around themselves,
waiting for sails on the horizon,
for fathers, for brothers, for husbands to come home.

Young boys who went to sea, much like I went to university,
clenched fists and starry night-eyes,
who learnt that nothing can quell an unforgiving ocean,
not even the children who challenged the shallow shores,
those who never returned to their mothers’ lullabies.

Their stories are in every rock, in every seashell.
in every tide that swallows the docks.
Stories of islanders who read tomorrow in the skies,
who knew that red clouds predicted weary storms
the type that could orphan their children and starve their homes.

The water still cradles me, there is salt in my ears,
my hair flows like jelly fish tendrils around my shoulders.
I have no doubt that all the souls lost at sea,
the stories and the children and the ocean
are resting
in these waters.

-Andrea

16 to 23 and everything inbetween

Tomorrow’s my birthday!

I’m turning 23 and I’m not entirely sure what that means yet. I’m aware it won’t mean that I’ll wake up taller, wiser or more confident. I know your birthday is just a symbolic notion and that what helps you grow are all the days in between. However, like with New Year’s Resolutions, maybe birthdays can function as a day of reflection, a definite marker of another year passing. Not for everyone and not for the world, but in your very own timeline. What have you learnt since your last birthday? What have you figured out? What new people have you met, and what new paths have you travelled down?

To “celebrate” that today is my last day as 22, I’m posting this little video. It is a poem I wrote for the OctPoWriMo challenge, last year, about all the things I’d love to tell myself at 16. In the original post I wrote “this took a long time to get right, but I didn’t want to post it before I was happy with it. Felt like I owed 16 year old me that much.”

Filmed in my bed, with a comfy shirt on and a cup of tea waiting. It felt fitting to post this on my last day of being 22, as a symbol of all the things I’ve finally figured out, and of all the things I’ve yet to learn.

Here’s to making the next year a good one.

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

“Old Harry Rocks”

Written on the 21st of October, 2018.

The hillside is full of sheep.
They graze the grass we walk on, they don’t mind the steep slopes
and the cliffs.

The villagers call it a mountain, everyone else calls it a hilltop.
I want to call it an adventure.
Everyone we meet are prepared with hiking boots and walking sticks,
we are armed with sneakers and half a sausage roll.
This wasn’t where we thought today was gonna lead us.
Four hours up and four hours down,
we scale steps carved into the hillside,
past trees that have grown into each other
to seek refuge in numbers
from the sharp sea air,
gusts coming in from the northern sea.

Beneath us, Swanage wanes away.
The bay grows smaller and smaller,
until you could fit the entire town between your thumb and ring finger,
lift it up and put it in your palm.
Maybe that’s what I’m trying to do;
Lift Swanage out of its little nook between the hills and the unforgiving ocean,
nestle all the teacups and barefoot walks along the beach
into the crook of my neck,
keep it there to remind myself of the times I’ve felt like I belong here.

I clutch your hand in mine,
feel your nails against my skin.
In front of us, the terrain evens out.
Two chalk rocks stand side by side,
broken away from the hillside, they hold each other up.
They’ve been standing since long before the town came to be,
just as the town will be here
long after I have left.

-Andrea

Pyjama Sessions – “I said there’s no getting rid of me now…”

Sometimes I feel like there is this notion that poetry has to be gritty to be good, that poems have to make you cry to be worth something. I agree that poetry is a wonderful platform to rebel, to be angry and to talk about stuff it feels like you can’t talk about anywhere else. Poetry is honest, it’s raw and it’s unmasked. But it’s also cosy and safe and comfortable. Poetry can just as well leave you feeling all warm inside, it’s just as valid when a poem makes you smile, makes you giggle, makes you let out that breath you’ve been holding for a little too long.

Poetry belongs where we’re feeling safe, it belongs before bedtime on a Monday, and tucked in under a blanket, hot chocolate in hand on a Sunday morning.

Welcome to my bed; welcome to floral bedsheets, a baggy pyjama t-shirt, my face with no makeup on. Have a poem I wrote a little over two years ago, a poem about all the wonderful tomorrows we hope will be granted us one day. Let’s all be so lucky.

I’ll let the video speak for itself, and if you want to read the poem before, after or while listening, here’s the written version.

I hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea