Lock Down Poetry- Distancing

The first item in our poetry series on the Sarum College Blog, by Mark Pryce

‘Distancing’ is a playful look at the strange new phenomenon of ‘social distancing’ and its two-metre space between one person and another.

The poem picks up on the variety of language being used by public health advisers and journalists to describe the 2m gap – the length of a broom, width of a double bed, size of a parking space etc – and then goes on to imagine specific creatures, objects and historical individuals whose length or width would serve to keep two people two metres apart. It ends with a sombre reminder of mortality.


Set between            yourself                    

and every other body       living, dead or dying

a sufficient               gap

big enough   for holding out

a long-handled broom      without touching              

wide               as a double bed

three shopping trollies                  end to end

half a car parking space                            two garden benches

four desk chairs      arm to arm

the length of                        Gregori Rasputin

Peter the Great       lying down              

Abraham Lincoln                Henry the Eighth,

Osama bin Laden                           Charlemagne

Margaret Thatcher             with very high heels

Napoleon on stilts                          Hitler in a top hat

none              close together

between each                     a certain distance:

wingspan                  of a golden eagle

broad             as a Mantua court gown

length            for a standard coffin

to pass by                 sideways.


Read the Sarum Blog to keep up to date with our poetry selection.

The Revd Canon Dr Mark Pryce is a visiting scholar in the Sarum College Centre for Human Flourishing. He is director of Ministry, Birmingham Diocese and Chaplain to The Queen. 

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