By Joe Williams

Do you realise, I wonder, that this isn’t normal?
That just because it happened early on in your life
doesn’t mean we’ll repeat the trick every few years,
like the Olympic Games you’ll have to wait to see.

And do you understand that this isn’t just a game?
The longest ever hide and seek, the opposite of tiggy.
None of it is just for fun. It isn’t what we planned.
We’re just trying hard to survive.

I’ve never known a world so fragile.
I’ve never known a world that stood so still,
and I’ve known many more worlds than you.

If I ask you, years from this,
what’s the first thing you remember,
what will you say?

Joe Williams is a writer from Leeds. His latest book is ‘This is Virus’, a sequence of erasure poems made from Boris Johnson’s letter to the UK during the pandemic. 


Near the start of lockdown I was thinking about how children’s
experience of, and perspective on the pandemic would differ from those of adults, particularly for pre-school or early years children. Do they realise what an extraordinary thing this really is? I’ve no doubt that I will think back on this time for the rest of my life, but will they? I wrote ‘Distance’ as an imaginary conversation exploring those thoughts.

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Lucy Heuschen
3 years ago

Thank you for this poem, Joe. I like the conversational tone. You have performed a clever trick here, where we understand both the child’s view and the concerns of the adult.

Joe W
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Heuschen

Thanks Lucy, glad you liked it 🙂

Jenny Robb
3 years ago

I really like this Joe – very relatable and coming from an unusual slant in terms of covid poems I’ve read/heard

Moira Garland
3 years ago

I like this voice; I like that it’s talking to someone very young. Powerful in its understated way.

Joe W
3 years ago
Reply to  Moira Garland

Thanks Moira! My nephew Elliott was the imagined other party.

Poetry and Covid-19 ARCHIVE (This website archives the over 1000 poems submitted by over 600 poets, and viewed by over 100,000 from over 125 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, June 2020-June 2021). Thank you to all who took part in the Poetry and Covid project.

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