Lust in the Time of Covid

How can he not sneak out to meet her
through the darkened streets
his mask pulled high for protection
against the peering CCTV.

Desire becoming everything.

So when she opens the door in silence,
closes it with barely a click,
the clothes are off before they’ve said a word.

Only breathing, and touch, and lips.


Callanish Stones, Isle of Lewis

She follows the twist of path
through grasses and flowers bending
this way and that in the breeze,
and stops.

There it is, settled on the spine of the ridge
above Loch Roag.
It’s taken her a lifetime to get there.

In the centre the stones cluster
like women waiting for the story to begin,
the tallest, the poet, perhaps,
tolerant in their midst, biding her time.
Others straggle across the whispering bog,
late for the gathering.

For a moment, in the glow of the evening sun,
the stones become the fairy ring
on the lawn at home,
scotch bonnet toadstools springing
from mown grass.

Standing in the centre she closes her eyes,
feels mycelium entangle her.
No longer in amongst a gossip of stones,
she shimmers back to the Bronze Age
when the world was warmer
and seas lapped different shorelines.


Things Passed Down

I learned early to scorn the common girls.
The girls who were allowed to drink pop,
fizzy drinks bought from the van
that drove slowly round our streets.
Whose mothers used coloured plastic pegs
and left them pinned to the washing line
whatever the weather.

The girls from the council houses at the top
of our road, across town from the council
house where my mother grew up.
The girls in clothes passed down one sister
to another (whisper it – my mother too).

The girls whose houses housed no books,
who said haitch instead of aitch,
pronounced cook to rhyme with fluke.
Whose mothers called everyone love
like mine no longer did.

The girls who were barely a hair’s breadth
of respectability away from the girl
my mother used to be.

The Milk House logo

Nicki Griffin’s latest book of poetry is Crossing Places, published by Salmon Poetry. It’s available here.

Nicki GrffinLearn more about Nicki on the Contributors page.

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(Cover photo: Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis, Scotland, by Alun Allcock/


Nicki Griffin
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