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Riding This Out, a Poem by Stephen House

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

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

Riding This Out - Modern Poetry
Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger ~ Unsplash

my mum is ninety and in a nursing home

her main joy is the visits she gets

but the place is in lock-down with the virus spread risk

so we now chat most days on the phone

and while i suppose it is contact and we still have a laugh

the other morning hit hard when she said

if this lock-down keeps going which it seems like it might

i could be dead before i see you again

as a writer performer i make a living from shows

it’s been my work for decades

but my gigs are all cancelled indefinitely

so i’m not sure what comes next financially

in a way it feels like my life is on hold

not entirely but as far as shows go

but i’m still writing heaps and trying new forms

though a darkness is clouding my words

to make ends meet i rent out part of my house

as an artist it gives some security

but my tenant’s a musician and his work’s dried up too

so who knows what will happen from here

and given the situation he’s in

i feel bad asking each week for the bucks

but we’re working it out as we can bit by bit

we performers are doing it tough

a play that i wrote has been touring in spain

and that’s exciting for me as a playwright

but the tour’s now cancelled because of covid-19

though that means nothing compared to the deaths there

the team involved with the spanish production

are disappointed for this was months coming

but they are living through an ongoing war

and the news on tv makes that clear

i shop at the supermarket quickly once in a week

as that’s what they advise us to do

but it’s strange there now as some shelves are empty

and i saw two women fight over sanitiser

there’s a stress attached to going out for groceries

and a keep away from all others prevails

but within the weird hum i sense a hint of shared care

we all know we’re riding this out together

so it’s ok to exercise we are now being told

and to be honest i’ve done it all along

my beach walks and swims are my sanity savers

it’s the way i connect with normality

my partner joins me when it fits in with our days

or alone if we can’t make meeting work

it’s the only activity that takes me outside the house

i wonder when i’ll be doing some more

i’m not complaining given the world situation

so far i’m healthy and managing ok

but each day seems to bring another concern

and i can’t say that it’s not affecting me

think what we will about normal one day returning

we all want things to be as they were

but will normal ever be the normal we knew

i suppose that will remain to be seen


Stephen House is an award winning playwright, poet and actor. He’s won two Awgie Awards (Australian Writer’s Guild) , Adelaide Fringe Award, Rhonda Jancovich Poetry Award for Social Justice, Goolwa Poetry Cup, Feast Short Story Prize and more. He’s been shortlisted for Lane Cove Literary Award, Overland’s Fair Australia Fiction Prize, Patrick White Playwright and Queensland Premier Drama Awards, Greenroom best actor Award and more. He’s received Australia Council literature residencies to Ireland and Canada, and an India Asialink. His chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press. He is published often and performs his work widely. Find out more on his website.


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