There will be a time when the big swerve falls into disuse,
When we spare the stranger the furrowed-brow stare, uncertain and wary,
When we’ll gradually forget how far two metres really is.
There will be a time when we’ll wonder when we forgot how to wash our hands
And learned how many times we touch our face, and – who knew? –that the national anthem had a second verse.
There’ll be a time when we can embrace our grown-up children again, cuddle our grandchildren, visit our parents, and just touch our friends affectionately on their arm
When Easter services, back in churches, will welcome back those not on the net.
There will be a time when our children’s art will return to fridge doors, rainbows removed from front doors and windows, as a shaken nation returns to a new, disturbed normality
When we might consider paying proper taxes, instead of just a flood of applause for our NHS workers.
When ward cleaners become invisible again, as we forget again that the bin man gives better value than the billionaire.
There will be a time when we won’t believe we sent nurses and doctors naked and empty-handed to fight a deadly, unforgiving foe,
When our Thursday claps fade away, and we return to belittling the workers “suckling at the public teat”
There’ll be a time when affairs will bloom again, when adulterous lovers return to old deceptions, when teenagers will again escape their parents to the freedom of the local bus shelter.
There will be a time when “When this is all over” will become an embarrassing cliche of a sickly spring, a sinister summer.
For now, we stand apart, nervous and anxious, desperately alert for kernels of hope in the hourly avalanche of news misery.
In solitary farewells, unsocially distant, we yearn in vain to hug and be hugged, to comfort and be comforted,
As we send our dearly departed alone and unsupported on their final journeys.
But, eventually there will be a time …
By Vimal Madhavan