A World Insulted

By Sarah Salway

It’s a single lung –
no, start smaller
a particle of oxygen
in a breath
that’s never been valued
that fills the lung
already scarring
with each missed gulp.
the medical term
they use around
my hospital bed,
a machine
that screams
when the breath
doesn’t take,
a white room
with one green wall,
a window with
– on tiptoes –
a view of trees,
of an outside
where the world
is shutting down
like lines on the monitor,
food on a plate,
a kitchen of sandwich makers
in blue plastic aprons,
a blue aproned nurse,
homes where a phone call
now could be a bomb
thrown in at random,
while on the television
far away, a father
runs across the street
to rescue his child
knowing even before the first step
that safety is an abstract thought,
us all breathing the same air.

Sarah Salway is a novelist and poet, living in Kent with her family. In March, she was hospitalised with COVID and is happily recovering. Her website is www.sarahsalway.co.uk 

Twitter: @SarahSalway

Instagram: SarahSalway

I’m writing from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and this poem came about because I was actually hospitalised for COVID pneumonia back in March, thankfully now recovered. It really made me think about how just one breath – so much taken for granted before – was precious, and this poem resulted from that.

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Dominik Kai Brotherton
Dominik Kai Brotherton
3 years ago

full of fruit, without feeling dense. there’s an open simplicity i really like here that allows for a lot of eisegesis. a lot with little.

Moira Garland
3 years ago

This is a striking and wonderful poem with a view starting in a hospital bed. Glad you are now better.

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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