Read a Poem

Essential exercise

In this sunnier, odder spring with louder
birdsong, sweeter lanes and tall
blue skies unstreaked by planes

the bicycle carries me with all
its old swiftness, answers the ask
of a leaned corner, flicks its jink around a grid.

For an hour in each slow day I’ve been
out cycling quiet roundabouts, freewheeling
down these potholed weeks of death.

I’ve been waving to more cyclists now
than cars. Though once, there was a bin lorry,
and I lapped it, felt my lungs at work.

Thursday, and a swallow skims a fence,
gauges precisely its distance from my wheels.
Ambulances pass. Key workers work and set

aside their fears. They labour through this spring’s
long hours, high rent, low pay – the poverty trap.
At eight o’clock, on our doorsteps, we’ll all clap.


And here we are again, back in lockdown, living in a pandemic. Living through it, hopefully, if we are the lucky ones. I wrote this poem back in April 2020, and it was published on the Plymouth University Poetry and Covid website here.

Now, in January 2021, there’s an odd nostalgia for the first lockdown, I feel. We’re lacking spring, this time, of course, and that extraordinary sunshine. So I wish you all well, and for you to hang onto the kernel of hope that everyone needs.

All things pass.