outdoors/indoors

(‘Write a pair of poems; one that focuses on an indoor activity, and one on an outdoor activity. How has your notion of those designations been transformed since the pandemic? Are there new designations you’ve created?’ I’ve been spending more time outdoors, or differently outdoors, not yet bored by walking the same paths or visiting the same places or writing poems about the same things. Different story indoors…)

Outdoors, I walk. I feel at home
here, on paths I’ve walked before, more often
these days than before. I sit in an oak I’ve made
friends with, admire its new leaves, wonder
what to call their shade of green. Listen to birds,
to fellow walkers talking with dogs. Say hello
as they pass, out of the way but jointly smiling at
this place. I take in the beauty of bluebells. Webs
made by spiders. Ferns unfurling. The murmurs
of streams. Blades of grass in  the morning sun.
A broken bird’s egg, blue with grey specks. I send
a picture from a place we love, a good morning
message to my son : ) He sends one back : (
computer screen, essay on vikings: violent or not?
I almost walk into a chestnut leaf – seven in one,
uplifted by the breeze as I watch. It keeps rising,
makes me laugh. Back down, almost home, I join
the bakehouse queue. At the thought of coffee,
I contemplate going back indoors. Or through,
into the garden. For now.

Indoors, I sit in a corner of this
living-room dining-room kitchen office. I look
at a screen, try to focus on identity politics
in Nigeria, the practice of dignity in Belfast.
Keep an eye on Prime Minister’s Questions.
Book a place for a zoom performance, a theatre
in Zurich. Move between screens and apps.
I hear a buzz, go to investigate, learn it’s a hoverfly.
It goes quiet, rubs its legs, looks more focused
than I feel, more patient at being on the inside of
the window. I need a break. On the doorstep,
almost outdoors.

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