SURVEYING my hermit kingdom,
I feel entitled to a little smugness.
The flowers from the Silk Tree
Are floating like pink paratroopers
Into all the corners of the garden.
Clematis blooms, her spiked earrings
Drooping languidly above the mown lawn.
Being locked-down here is hardly a hardship.
Of course, the hermit bit is all wrong.
In this kingdom I have not been alone.
A wife, a daughter, a solipsistic cat
Have kept me company right through.
And when we got to the traffic lights,
There were old friends to greet,
And food to eat, and the thrust and parry
Of much-missed conversation, face-to-face.
One name, Jacinda, rose out of
All this agreeable contention.
But in my little kingdom, if not in others,
It was spoken kindly, with forbearance.
Occasionally, with just the tiniest edge of asperity.
Elsewhere, it is spat out in anger,
And anguish, and wild desperation.
Not every kingdom is as calm as mine.
So, maybe, we all deserve the taunt of smugness.
A small people, distracted by small causes,
While beyond our fortunate borders the Plague rages.
Perhaps, all things considered, we have earned the rebuke.
Still, there are worse things to be called.
Smug suggests pride in a job well done,
And the grim satisfaction of knowing that
There are much worse kingdoms to be locked-down in.
23 December 2021
This poem was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 24 December 2021.