Once Upon a Lockdown

admndaretwrtWriters at Home and in Isolation

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Once upon a tightly folded rosebud a letter from the Prime Minister arrives. It is Friday. Or maybe Monday. There are bluebells in the garden. I wash out jars: jam, pickle, marmalade. Bring buttercups inside. The supermarket emails about queues. My shelves are flower-filled. In my Instagram window, I listen to the news. Perhaps it’s Tuesday.


Once upon a rose unfolding in a living room, Andrew’s legs are aching as he cycles. On Thursdays we bang a saucepan with a spoon. He cycles, cycles, cycles on a static bike. I walk in local streets, raise my phone to rainbows.

Pink and Mauve

It is April it is May. Once upon a castle with a cough. The Queen is safe in Windsor. The Prince shook one too many hands, living in a land that time forgot. Every day feels like Sunday in the Seventies, once upon full blooming, pink and mauve. Our children went to uni, imagining themselves grown. They are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping in childhood beds.

       Their heads lie next to fairy tales. The prime minister had a baby.


Once upon not dreaming about roses, we move through rooms like sunlight making shapes on walls, keeping different hours. We meet at midnight, at 4am, in the kitchen, on the stairs. I keep notes about my children’s dreams. I am driving to a roadblock; the pubs are open; George is in my arms; my mixing decks arrive; my tutor rifles through my school lunchbox choosing cakes; eleven women escape from a cult; Johnny brings them home at 2am, I try to arrange spacings, you know, social distancing, but they are docile from the cult; I am angry; you are being ineffectual.

Rose Garden

I beg your pardon? I never promised you the kind of boring life you used to take for granted and now long for. A man in a white shirt sitting at a table like someone selling raffle tickets for a church fete. Hahahaha. Don’t mention that well-known high street opticians. Don’t mention stop and search drivers. Don’t mention racism. Don’t mention hypocrisy. Don’t mention austerity. Don’t mention PPE. Don’t mention lies. I mentioned it once; I think I got away with it.

Each Petal Falling

Once upon each falling petal, many falling petals, forty thousand, forty-one thousand, forty-two thousand, and counting, counting, counting. It is June.

Puddle of Faded Pink

An office in the garden shed. A laptop running software by the fireplace. I hear a voice talking, then white noise, as if the window is open when it’s raining in the night and I am lying awake listening to radio plays in my headphones, Andrew snoring, maybe dreaming. At four, he goes downstairs to cycle. I fall asleep to the sound of being out of breath, horses pulling sleighs through snow. Something Russian in translation. 11am, the house is silent. Once upon a puddle of faded petals on the floor.


Once upon an untold tale of wild garlic, forget-me-nots, care homes, redacted documents, algorithms, votes, donations, contracts, dandelions, common knapweed, manipulating data, statistics, yellow hawkweed, tulips.


Heads are drooping like grandparents sitting for long days in a locked-up television room.

       Petals like scrunched up tissue paper retrieved from toilet water stuck on the end of stalks. Aunts, Uncles, Brothers, Sisters, Parents. Jars of these. They have died and I can’t stop staring at them, holding their full blooms in my mind. Once upon a walk down the garden path to the compost. Any day now. But when? When?



Josephine Corcoran lives in Trowbridge. She is a poet, playwright and short story writer. Her most recent book is a poetry collection, What Are You After? (Nine Arches Press, 2018). In the lockdown, she has been experimenting with different forms of writing.

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