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That Smile in the Sky

Photograph of a robin on a vird feeder

 

That Smile in the Sky - by Emma Mills

It’s so hard to know where to start telling this story,

Of the COVID lockdown in all of it’s glory.

Our singing policeman stole hearts round the world,

A smiley face drawn by a plane as it twirled.

 

A great sense of community, we’re all in this together,

Rainbows displayed, crocheted hearts were delivered,

Children & adults spotted bears in windows,

Rock snakes grew and live music bellowed.

 

But the dark side really can’t go unmentioned,

Tragedy, sacrifice, unbearable tension,

Pain, despair, fear, a great cost

So many lives touched, such unthinkable loss

 

‘Furlough’, ‘Shielding’ ‘Social Distancing’

A new language to learn, no sense in resisting

‘Unprecedented’ became a familiar word.

The world was a strange place, in fact quite absurd.

 

Many embraced the lockdown regime,

The village pulled together, so many seemed keen

to do all that they could to support each other

Despite many not seeing their son, partner, mother

 

Our village alone, 500 volunteers

Such a fabulous response brought us to tears

Charity support, weekly food bank donations,

And keeping in touch with friends and relations.

 

There were board games, water fights, video quizzes

VE Day BBQs meeting new neighbours

Up a ladder I chatted over the fence with my mates

And the badminton coffee cup challenge was great.

 

Thank God for the internet, the garden, the sun

We focused on positives, we even had fun.

It really wasn’t ALL doom and gloom

As long as we knew how to log into zoom

 

We all have our own unique lockdown story,

Mine was of shielding, job loss & being poorly.

Three letters arrived, different, but saying the same,

From the GP, Consultant and Hancock they came.

 

“Self isolate you must for twelve weeks” I was told,

“Your at high risk of illness, of death, please behold”

“Protect yourselves and the NHS, in this way,

Never leave you house, PLEASE do as we say”.

 

Immediately I thought of the impact on some,

Mental health, domestic violence, there was no where to run.

So many were desperate, the list was too long,

It was so unfair, it all felt so wrong.

 

I was in awe of friends who were engaged in home schooling

With a house full of kids it must have been gruelling

Some friends even balanced that with working from home

Desperate, exhausted, many felt so alone.

 

The key workers stepped up, true heroes of our day,

Risking their lives, soldering on all the way

We clapped for the NHS, waved at the bus drivers

Strangers said hello, people seemed kinder.

 

Then the clapping stopped due to political agendas,

But those Thursday nights I will always remember.

and rainbows started fading, they were losing their colour.

The atmosphere changed, people were blaming each other.

 

“Is that allowed?”, “Is that legal”, “Is that selfish?”, “Don’t they care?”

So many of us at home looked on in despair.

Some workers were jealous of those relaxing at home,

“But they should feel lucky”, the job-less would groan.

 

“But you CHOSE to shield” were words I struggled to hear,

Unfairly, unkindly, people began to jeer.

“It was your CHOICE not to have him at home, your son,

so therefore you are not entitled to moan”

 

Judgements were flying, so little understanding,

Friends falling out, insults abounding

And so unnecessary, the guidance should have been clearer

In straightforward clarity, I am a believer.

 

“So where do we go from here?”, now we all ask,

Businesses reopening, we must wear a mask.

I want to support them but I’m not ready yet,

as to waste 4 months of shielding, I’d be sure to regret.

 

Some shielders feel anxious, some are made to feel shame,

but can’t you see that’s not fair, it’s just not the same

you’re excited about nail bars, pubs, shops, swimming pools,

but those who are shielding still have different rules.

 

Please support each other, there’s adjusting to do

Clothes don’t fit, my hair’s grey, even that’s stressful too.

“Don’t worry it’s just the vulnerable who suffer”, we were told

But for many, that’s them, and they want to grow old.

 

For me shielding meant less contact with my young son,

Video calls meant I could still hear the words “love you Mum”,

Fifteen weeks we stayed strong, I’m so very proud,

and that hug on the doorstep, the best I’ve ever had!

 

The majority of us ensured that we did the right thing,

Whether that was staying at home, or emptying the bins

We were all in this together, that still remains true.

Just our stories are different and to you I say THANK YOU!

 

We know for sure that life won’t ever be the same

But I pray that the good bits we saw stay unchanged

That sense of community and of supporting our neighbours,

All of the positives I’m determined to remember…

 

The rainbows, the hearts, yes even the teddy bears.

The selfless acts of kindness. Our community really cared.

The music, the laughter, strangers being kinder.

That smile in the sky, will be my reminder

 

Emma Mills

13th July 2020

Churchdown, Gloucestershire

 

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