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How Many Miles, a Poem by Jane Burn

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

For the collection: 'Life in the time of #COVID'

How Many Miles - Contemporary Poetry

I am so very, very far away from you. I Google how many miles there are between us, if you were in Rome (1422.1) or Delhi (4196), Paris (586.3) or Madrid (1370.5). Distance has a whole new meaning. I used to dream of Arizona. That song, Little Fluffy Clouds

everyone tripping in dim-lit clubs to The Orb at 2 am while I was high just throbbing with ambiance and riding

upon that woman’s voice, when she talked about the sky. Arizona is 4,985 miles away from where I am, right now and yet I have never felt so neighbourly toward the whole world. I feel how near

you are to me – now we know each other’s deepest fears. This has made us curious relations, strangely clinging twins. Our children, loved ones, friends, family, our own hides. Who

will stay, who will go? How long away is tomorrow? I know today you worried over what you ate, like I did. Looked out the window and winced at the portents in the sky, just as I have done. We tap

into Twitter’s lifeblood, gorge ourselves ill on someone else’s

panic, latch onto some grain of seeming sense, someone’s offering of word or song. We mourn upon the horror-daily stats of tragic deaths.

Today we couldn’t see the point in washing our hair. At night we stretch our arms into the dark and I wonder where you are, reaching out an echoed embrace. Look up – those stars are the prints our fingertips

have made. We dust off our knees and make a cathedral of our palms. It has been so long since some of us invoked a god – doubt has made us angels. Be well, stay safe I wish upon the Earth and everyone makes a cloud

of prayer, wishing for the same. I cannot hold you when you cry,

though I have never felt closer to you than I do, this moment in time.

Northumberland to the Netherlands, 616 miles.


Jane Burn's poems and stories have been published in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. She has been placed in many poetry competitions and has been nominated for the Forward and Pushcart Prize. Her latest poetry collection Yan, Tan, Tether is available from Indigo Dreams. She is an associate editor at Culture Matters Press.


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