April Showers

“Can you come and listen to something for a moment?” I asked Mr Blue-Shirt as I padded into his work room. Just out the shower, I was still wrapped in a towel, my freshly washed hair dripping down my back. He sighed, reluctantly broke off his Internet browsing and threw me a wary glance as he stood up from the antique drop-fronted writing desk and matching chair that had been his mother’s. He knew from bitter experience that such apparently innocent requests seldom meant good news.

Back in our shower room, I stepped into the shower cubicle. “Listen…,” I said and rocked back and forth on the slightly raised tiled platform around the square shower tray.
“Can you hear that?”
“You mean that squelching noise?”
I nodded.
“So I’m not hearing things.”
“No,” said Mr Blue-Shirt wearily as he knelt down to investigate further, already sensing a new task being added to his never-ending job list.

The same squelching sound came from three further tiles, one of which we could actually see flexing when it was pressed. “The grout or the sealant must have failed somewhere. Whatever’s under these tiles is soaking. We can’t use it like this. The whole lot will have to come up.”  He stood up and peered out of the window down onto the half-tiled terrace below. “At this rate, I’ll never get the bloody terrace finished.”

I really felt for Mr Blue-Shirt. For pretty well all of the preceding three months now he had been building the broad, seaward-facing main terrace at the eastern end of the house, his thirty-eight square-metre magnum opus that linked the northern and southern sections he had built the previous year. But by the time he had waited the requisite four weeks for the concrete base to set properly, the country had gone into complete coronavirus quarantine, all his usual builders’ merchants had closed and, having used up all his existing supplies, he was now having difficulties sourcing the quantity of tile cement and grout he needed to complete the job (which even in the most favourable of circumstances was always going to take a solid four weeks or more to complete). Hence the Internet search I had just interrupted.

“Well, let’s just leave it for the time-being, then,” I said. “It’s hardly any great hardship to use the shower in the guest bathroom for a few weeks if you want to get the terrace finished first. After all, we’re not likely to be having anyone to stay for a while, are we?!”
Mr Blue-Shirt smiled weakly. “That’s true,” he said. “But even if I do find a tile cement supplier, I bet it’ll be a couple of weeks before they can deliver. I might as well get this sorted out in the meantime.”
“Well, only if you’re sure. It’s not as if it will put the whole shower room out of action; we can still use the washbasin and loo in here, so waiting really isn’t any inconvenience.”
I always felt slightly guilty about finding problems and spotting glitches about the house as they invariably ended up involving far more work for Mr Blue-Shirt than my casual observations would immediately suggest.
“No it’s OK. We’d agreed we wanted to make improvements to the shower anyway. This has just brought things forward a bit.”

He was right. The spacious, purpose-built, walk-in shower in the shower room off our bedroom was one of the many features that had attracted us to the house in the first place and we were actually very fond of it. With its generous proportions and thick, waist-high walls that were topped with glass on the two outer sides, edged with oak sills, and clad in large, stone-effect tiles, it had always had something of the feel of a Roman bath about it: simultaneously rugged and decadent. And the novelty of taking in the glorious view out over the olive trees down the valley to the sea while actually standing in the shower had never worn off.  But while we loved its individuality – and its amazing views – it had for some time been suffering from a series of niggles that were starting to become rather tiresome. The grout between the tiles that got the wettest was starting to break down and drop out in small, soggy, chunks; we had already had to replace the sealant around the shower tray several times because it flexed underfoot; the oak sills were beginning to warp; and the tiled floor of the door-less cubicle turned out to slope away from the shower tray. This meant that the water at best puddled badly, but at worst ended up trickling out of the cubicle and all over the bathroom floor if one of us took a longer shower. So we had decided some months earlier that we would in the relatively near future solve the problem of the wonky tiles and the ill-fitting shower tray by installing a larger rectangular one to fill the entire space. We had also agreed that when the time came to re-do the bathroom completely, we would think seriously about replacing the sturdy tiled walls with a full-height glass cubicle. For while we liked the idea of the Roman bath-house walls, they did make the room, feel unnecessarily cramped. But our lingering fondness for the space – and knowing that it would require a lot of work to carry out either of these changes – meant that none of the niggles had become quite annoying enough to spur us into action. Right up until I had discovered those loose tiles, which had elevated the project’s status from ‘would like to do at some point’ to ‘need to do as soon as possible’ in a single squelch.

Mr Blue-Shirt trudged straight down to the shed and soon reappeared, armed with a hammer and chisel – and that look of steely determination that I knew so well.
“You’d finished in here, hadn’t you?” he said, waving vaguely at my drooping bath towel and still dripping hair.
“Yes, it’s all yours – if you’re that keen to get started.”
“No time like the present,” he confirmed with somewhat forced jollity as he shoo-ed me out of the shower room and closed the door.

By the time I had got dressed and dried my hair and gingerly opened the door to the shower room again, he had already chiselled up all the squelchy tiles and stripped away most of the sealant. There was black mildew everywhere, the timber supporting the shower tray and surround was little more than a spongey pulp, and the entire room was filled with the musty stench of rotten wood and mouldy cement.

Suddenly I didn’t feel quite so bad about the terrace being on hold for a while.

Piano, piano…

It’s another of Mr Blue-Shirt’s favourite Italian phrases and means ‘softly, softly’ or ‘little by little’. And that is how we started to emerge from lockdown a couple of weeks ago, blinking against the brilliant early May sun that shone from a sky so clear that looked as if it had been freshly laundered for the occasion and pegged out to dry.

There was a sense of nervous excitement in the warm spring air when I went up to the village, partly to see what was going on, but primarily – after ten weeks of being permitted only to go to the supermarket – just because I could. It really lifted the spirits to see the village with its narrow, cobbled streets and broad market square if not exactly filled with people, then certainly not the ghost town it had seemed for so long. Everyone was masked, most were gloved and all kept a safe distance from one another, but this did nothing to diminish people’s clear delight at being able to have a good (if slightly muffled) natter with their neighbours, buy local cheeses and cured meats from the market which had just started running again, or simply sit on a bench and watch the world go by. But while this gave a comforting sense of near-normality, I didn’t need to look far to see that we weren’t there yet. The shutters on the  primary school were still tightly closed, the hairdresser’s still showed no sign of life, the pizzeria still had a sign on its heavy wooden doors saying ‘closed until further notice’, and the normally buzzing Caffé del Teatro that is pretty much the beating heart of the village stood in sepulchral silence in the corner of the square.

We had started making progress, though, as from that day there has followed a long string of ‘firsts’, each ridiculously mundane in itself, but collectively all somehow laden with symbolism and significance.

  • My first trip to the cash machine since the end of February.
  • The first time we heard cars passing the house after dark.
  • My first adrenaline-fuelled, proper run beyond sight of the house, and Mr Blue-Shirt’s first lung-busting bike ride to the coast.
  • The first time we left the house together in over ten weeks.
  • Our first time outside the confines of the comune.
  • My first cold call, from an unrecognised number in Naples.
  • Our first time on a dual carriageway.
  • The first time I bought something other than food.
  • The first time I actually needed to check for traffic before pulling off the drive.
  • The first time in nearly three months that we filled the car – and paid fourteen Euros less for the pleasure.
  • The first time a student on Zoom could answer the question ‘what did you do at the weekend?’ with something other than ‘nothing’ – and I saw tears in the eyes of the achingly cool teenager who told me she had visited her grandma.

There will be many more ‘firsts’ from tomorrow, too, when the government will lift another huge raft of restrictions, partly in response to growing public pressure, but also because the data are looking sufficiently encouraging. The daily new infection rate is back down in the hundreds, daily fatalities are consistently below two hundred, the percentage of positive tests is well into single figures and still falling, and the number of people officially ‘discharged/recovered’ is now almost double the number of  those ‘currently testing positive’. So with an ‘R-rate’ of 0.65 for confirmed cases, rising to 0.95 if suspected cases are included, Prime Minister Conte and his team feel confident enough to allow people to travel more or less freely within their home region with no further need to carry a document stating the reason for travel. That said, this ‘autocertificazione’ will still be required to travel from one region to another, which for at least the next fortnight will be permitted only for work, health or ‘urgent need’.  Visiting friends as well as family will be permitted, although large congregations, parties and events will still be banned. While gyms, spas and swimming pools will have to stay closed, all remaining shops as well as hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, and even bars and restaurants (but no buffets) will be able to open –  provided they have strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place, of course.

So the highlight of the coming week will undoubtedly be going into the village for the simple but unaccustomed pleasure of having breakfast at the newly re-opened Caffé del Teatro. It will be all masks and gloves and plexi-glass screens, of course, and we won’t be able to greet Simeone the owner and Cecilia his right-hand woman in the traditional Italian way. But an elbow bump and a wave will at least be a start. We are getting there. Piano, piano…

 

Daily data courtesy of Corriere della Sera: https://www.corriere.it/salute/20_febbraio_25/coronavirus-mappa-contagio-italia-6ed25c54-57e3-11ea-a2d7-f1bec9902bd3.shtml

The Unfinished Symphony

More than thirty thousand coronavirus deaths in Italy now. The same again and more in the UK. In excess of a quarter of a million around the globe. We mourn their loss and our hearts go out to their grieving families.

But this weekend our focus has entirely been inward facing and entirely personal. For yesterday was – would have been – was (we still find ourselves caught in limbo between the nearly-was and always-will-be) the twenty-third birthday of our stillborn only son, William.

The shadows remain; the pain persists. The love endures.

The unfinished symphony
The sculpture
Knocked from the pedestal
Just before
The final touch.

Though sleeping comes to birth,
Never living,
Never dies.
But continues its creation
In the hearts
Of its creators.

And so the symphony,
The masterpiece,
The stillborn child
Forever plays his melody
In his parents’ loving hearts,
In the hearts of his creators.

We read this unattributed poem at William’s funeral in a tiny country church in Wiltshire and in whose pretty graveyard he remains at rest…

Pochi passi

It’s one of Mr Blue-Shirt’s favourite Italian phrases and means ‘a few steps’. And nearly nine weeks since the whole of Italy went into almost total lockdown to try and halt the relentless advance of coronavirus, the country is about to take ‘pochi passi’ towards lifting some of the restrictions that have kept us all confined to our homes since early March.

Only once all the daily data on testing rates, infection rates, fatalities and hospital discharges had steadily been moving in the right direction for a good couple of weeks did the government feel ready to announce on 26th April a comprehensive timetable for a very cautious, phased re-opening of the country over the course of the coming month – and all still subject to there being no significant spike in new cases. Now that the infection rate is consistently falling by over five hundred a day, the recovery rate has risen to around three thousand a day, and fatalities have fallen from over nine hundred a day at the start of the lockdown to well below three hundred a day, we will, as of tomorrow, be able to travel beyond the confines of our commune (while still remaining within the region, however) for reasons other than work, health or an emergency. Social distancing rules will still apply, of course, masks must be worn on public transport and wherever social distancing is not feasible, and everyone will still need to carry with them a document stating the reason for their outing, unless they are going to work or for a walk.

Public parks will re-open and – big ‘hurrah!’ from both of us – individuals will be permitted to go more than just a couple of hundred metres from home to take outdoor exercise – indeed, Le Marche’s regional government has issued an ordinance that specifically permits people to visit the beach for this purpose, although stopping for a chat with anyone or congregating with others is expressly prohibited. People will be able to visit members of their immediate family – although large family gatherings will remain forbidden, as will meeting up with friends. A range of industrial sectors will be able to re-start production – providing stringent health protection measures are in place – building sites can re-open, and the lottery will be back in action.

But while people will be permitted to travel beyond the comune from tomorrow, members of the same household will apparently still not be allowed to leave the house together (so it is unclear how this works with the newly permitted family visits), and there will still be very little to do if one or other of us does venture out. We will, for instance, have to wait a further week before shops other than supermarkets, pharmacies and those selling a strictly defined and limited range of ‘necessities’ can re-open – with a strict one-in-one-out policy in operation and all shop assistants required to wear masks and gloves.  It will be another week or two before shopping centres, covered markets, museums and galleries can re-open – undoubtedly with a strict mask-and-gloves rule in place – and travel between regions will be permitted.

Finally, providing the data during this period do not give undue cause for concern – and the government can retain the goodwill of the people whose patience is finally beginning to fray – hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons, bars and restaurants should be able to re-open by the end of May – all with strict social distancing and infection prevention measures in place, though. And state schools will remain closed until September.

So tomorrow one of us – we have yet to decide who – will be travelling the six whole miles to shop at our usual supermarket in the neighbouring comune for the first time in two months. And with the unambiguous simplicity of total lockdown having become so unexpectedly normalised, we are both slightly taken aback by the apprehension we both feel at having a whole new set of do’s and mainly don’ts we will have to negotiate, and how huge such ‘pochi passi’ feel…

Irony and Inspiration

Yesterday was Liberation Day in Italy. And seventy-five years after its liberation from the forces of fascism, Italy is once again fighting to free itself from the deadly grip of an occupying enemy, this time in the form of coronavirus. Seven weeks into lockdown and another ten days or so to go before there is any meaningful easing of quarantine restrictions, the poignant irony of this anniversary has not been lost on the Italian people. Their celebrations this year, while laden with extra symbolism, were minimal and makeshift. But were as full of defiance and hope as the partisans of earlier generations.

It was on 25th April 1945 that the pivotal cities of Milan and Turin were liberated from Nazi occupation, just six days after the partisan Comitato di Liberazione Nationale (Committee of National Liberation) proclaimed a resistance-led uprising that was quickly followed by a general strike initiated by Sandro Pertini (who later became President of the Republic). These twin initiatives were carefully timed to coincide with the Allies’ Spring Offensive, the 15th Allied Army’s multi-pronged attack into the Lombardy Plain and the culmination of their two-year-long advance up through the country from Sicily.

The partisan insurgency quickly paralysed industry in several other strategically important northern cities including Genoa, Bologna and Venice while British and American units forced the Nazis, who for some time had been without arms or ammunition, into full retreat. Their capitulation just a week later finally brought to an end Mussolini’s twenty-three-year dictatorship as well as five years of war, which included two years of Nazi occupation, and also the civil war that had resulted from Italy’s surrender to the Allies in September 1943.

25th April 1945 was also the day on which Il Duce and his generals were sentenced to death. And just three days later Mussolini himself was shot dead after a member of a group of partisans involved in checking convoys of retreating SS lorries recognised and arrested him on the Brenner Pass as he was trying to escape to Switzerland with his mistress, Claretta Petacci. Their bodies were returned to Milan, and along with the bodies of eighteen other prominent fascists who had also been executed, were hung upside down in the Piazzale Loreto – the scene a year earlier of the public execution of fifteen partisans on the order of the head of the Gestapo in Milan in reprisal for a resistance attack on a German military convoy.

The festival was initially created by decree in 1946 “per celebrare la totale liberazione del territorio italiano”, and was enacted into law as a permanent annual national holiday in 1949. Since then, many towns up and down the country have named a street via XXV Aprile in commemoration of this critical date in the history of the Republic. The day is also known as La Festa della Resistenza in recognition of the decisive role in the liberation played by the partigiani (partisans) of which there were about 250,000 by 1945. It has always been a day of mixed emotions: of celebration and commemoration, of liberation and loss.  As such, it is rather like a combination of D-Day partying, complete with parades, concerts and lots of eating, drinking and making merry, and Remembrance Day solemnity.

Before the partying begins, civic wreath-laying ceremonies are held at the memorials ‘ai caduti’ (to the fallen) that are found in practically every town and village in the country. Chief among these ceremonies is that held at the Vittoriano in the centre of Rome. This huge, flamboyant national monument, which is also known as the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) was built in 1885 in honour of King Vittorio Emanuele II who played a central role in the country’s unification in 1861, and also houses il Sacello del Milite Ignoto (the Shrine of the Unknown Soldier) dedicated to all Italian soldiers lost in war. It is here, surrounded by military pomp and grandeur, marching bands and flags, that the President of the Republic and other senior government officials normally lay wreaths of laurel leaves in tribute to all those killed in the service of the nation.

This year, however, with all public gatherings still outlawed, the President of the Republic, Sergio Matarella, cut a solitary figure in his dark suit and surgical facemask as he slowly mounted the steps of the Altare della Patria, laid his wreath to the fallen – a word which has taken on renewed significance of late – and along with just a small scattering of dignitaries stood to attention as a lone bugler sounded ‘Il Silenzio’.

His address to the nation recalled the sacrifices and the courage of the resistance that brought about the nation’s rebirth in 1945, drawing clear parallels with the current battle against coronavirus and how similar sacrifices and courage today will just as surely as in 1945 bring about a further national rebirth. And while the spirit of the resistance could not be celebrated in the manner that the anniversary deserved, it was celebrated nonetheless with countless online gatherings, including a national start-studded virtual fundraiser for the Italian Red Cross. What truly captured the spirit of the resistance, however, were the tens of thousands of citizens up and down the country who hung flags from their windows and congregated on their balconies to unite in rousing renditions of the Inno di Mameli (the national anthem) and the much-loved battle-song of the resistance, ‘Bella Ciao’.

Paradoxically, the stripped-down, homemade celebrations of 2020 may well turn out to have been one of the most memorable and meaningful Liberation Days in the  festival’s seventy-five year history.

Image courtesy of La Repubblica: https://www.repubblica.it/dossier/politica/25-aprile-2020—75-anni-dalla-liberazione?ref=RHHD-T

Meanwhile…

It was back in the pre-corona age of innocence just six weeks ago that I began the tale of Mr Blue-Shirt’s latest project – and probably his biggest to date. This has been the construction of the thirty-eight square metre terrace to the eastern side of the house that would link the sections to the northern and southern sides together and, more importantly, finally give us a proper, grown-up outdoor seating and dining area from which to enjoy the magnificent view over our olive trees up to the village and then down the broad, olive tree and vine filled valley to the tantalising triangle of turquoise sea in the distance.

It was in those weeks when Covid-19 was still a minor story in the foreign news columns that Mr Blue-Shirt progressed from scraping away the topsoil and digging out the foundations for the perimeter wall to lining the sides of the neat, narrow trench with plywood shuttering, then knitting together with twists of heavy wire the sections of thin steel bar that formed the long, thin cages that would reinforce the concrete he later poured into the trench. It was in those days filled with the promise of spring when our minds were still filled with three-year old images of long, languid lunches enjoyed beneath a rose covered pergola on a sunny terrace edged with terracotta pots from which tumbled a mass of scarlet geraniums and crimson petunias that Mr Blue-Shirt spread and flattened the 2.5 cubic metres  of stabilising hardcore that formed the base layer. And that apparently simple step in the process felt like a huge leap forward. In place of an uneven expanse of coarse clumpy grass and bare muddy patches we at last had a clearly defined, mud- and grass-free, flat, solid area outside the garden doors. Those long, languid lunches suddenly seemed a lot closer. To me, at least; for Mr Blue-Shirt, there was still a long way to go.

As the news from Lombardy grew more alarming by the day and the spread of coronavirus became headline news, Mr Blue-Shirt cracked on with the next phase of the build: constructing the low brick walls that would support the whole structure. I’ve mentioned before, I think, that Mr Blue-Shirt loves bricklaying, and he takes great pride in achieving kink-free lines and exact right-angles. And just as with every job he tackles, preparation is paramount, so long before he could set the trusty old cement mixer in motion again, he spent ages – usually at dusk so he could use his prized laser measuring gadget – precisely positioning, checking and re-positioning lengths of yellow nylon string to ensure perfectly straight edges, and a perfectly horizontal surface. Only once he was satisfied he had got everything just so did he start wheeling round the first few loads of bricks carefully selected from the pallets of reusable building materials he had salvaged from the (happily now ‘former’) pigsty.  It was only then, with a neat row of Jenga-like stacks of bricks in place, that he tipped the first batch of freshly mixed cement into his barrow, took the first brick from the nearest stack, spread it with a generous dollop of grey goo, and carefully set it in place, tapped it level with the handle of his trowel and, of course, checked with the spirit level that it was completely straight. One down; two hundred and forty-nine to go.

Over the course of the next week or so as the country gradually began to shut down, the skeleton of the terrace rose from the concrete foundations brick by brick. Neat slices of pinkish-beige laid in arrow-straight rows alternating with stripes of icing-smooth, pale grey cement. It really was a thing of beauty. I was intrigued, too, by how high the wall along the terrace’s furthest-most edge actually needed to be to ensure the whole area would be at the same level. It turned out that the uneven expanse of coarse, clumpy grass that had been our main seating area had sloped away much more than I’d realised, so when it was finished, our smart, new seating area would give us a distinctly more elevated view of the valley. It would feel a bit like being on the prow of a boat, I couldn’t help thinking.

Before Mr Blue-Shirt could crack on with creating that more elevated view, however, he had the incredibly time-consuming and fiddly task of installing all the cabling and conduits for the twelve lights that would be set into the terrace floor, extending and connecting up the irrigation system that is fed from the well, and carefully positioning the steel support brackets for the uprights of the timber pergola that will eventually provide some protection from the fierce midday sun.

Finally, with the giant spider’s web of wire and tubing neatly bunched together with cable ties, all connected up and fully tested, it was on to the infinitely more satisfying business of filling the entire space with rubble. Fortunately, we still had a plentiful supply of the stuff. As well as all the bricks, Mr Blue-Shirt’s methodical demolition of the pigsty had also yielded an enormous heap of broken bricks, tiles and chunks of concrete that he had kept for this very purpose: it had made little sense to send all this building detritus to landfill only to have to  go and buy several cubic metres of hardcore that would simply be made up of someone else’s discarded broken bricks and tiles. And this was quite apart from the symbolic value we continued to place on ‘re-habilitating’ the materials from the building where the chain of events that had culminated in the burglary the previous spring had all started.

As it turned out, the day Mr Blue-Shirt had earmarked for this task was the same day all schools finally closed in an effort to slow the advance of the virus and my teaching timetable was instantly slashed to just a handful of classes. So with some unforeseen free time suddenly on my hands, I could at least help him with the shoulder-wrenching, arm-stretching task of wheeling barrow after barrow of rubble –  three cubic metres of the stuff, in the end – from up behind the well on our western boundary, down past the house and round to its eastern side, heaving the contents into the thirty-eight square metre space, and then levelling it out into a relatively even layer with a heavy-duty rake, but mostly by hand. All the shovelling and shifting and raking threw up great clouds of throat-clogging dust from the ancient cement (and, we suspected, desiccated pigeon poo).  So having just heard news of the first case of the virus in our village, we fervently hoped that no one would hear the incessant coughing and choking that accompanied every barrow load.

Next came the broad, unwieldy sections of steel mesh that had to be snipped exactly to size, and then shuffled into position on top of the layer of chunky rubble. Then, after Mr Blue-Shirt had precisely positioned a series of parallel galvanised steel bars to ensure the desired level across the whole of terrace, everything was at last ready for what would finally turn this large rectangle of rubble into a recognisable terrace: the concrete.

Naturally, Mr Blue-Shirt’s first instinct was to mix and spread the required six cubic metres of concrete himself.  But then he did a little arithmetic: using just our battered old cement mixer, this would take about eighty separate loads. Each of these would weigh about one hundred and eighty kilos, and each would need to be transferred from the mixer to its final destination by hand, barrow and shovel. And even if he managed to mix, shift and spread as many as eight loads per day, it would still take a good ten days to finish the job – if the job didn’t finish him first. So he phoned the quarry to arrange for the six cubic metres to be delivered by truck and pumped straight into the space.

On that Friday in early March, I don’t know who was more tense, Mr Blue-Shirt or me. Mr Blue-Shirt alternated between checking his calculations and peering out of the window every time he heard a vehicle approaching, while I was doing some whistle-stop training on the online teaching platform that we were going to start using the following Monday. But when I eventually emerged from my work room, slightly boggled but more or less ready to run a virtual classroom, the cement truck had been and gone. While I had spent the afternoon getting to grips with screen sharing, breakout rooms and interactive whiteboards, it had disgorged its load over the waiting rubble and mesh as Mr Blue-Shirt plodded about in the viscous grey sludge, hurrying to keep up with the spreading and levelling, as the liquid cement gushed from the pump’s broad nozzle. By the end of the day, though, I was an online English teacher and we had a terrace.

And we had achieved both in the nick of time: at the start of the following week the whole country went into complete lockdown.

This is the time to be slow – Easter in the time of Coronavirus

Uncertainty, fear and anxiety; learning, teaching, and sometimes simply keeping going. Together they have left me drained and weary of mind and spirit, so with this brief pause at last upon us, I am taking the time to relax and recharge, to regroup and reflect. And I am heeding the advice of the Irish poet, author, philosopher and one-time priest John O’Donoghue, whose soothing words I leave you with today.

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes. 

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

May those ‘fresh pastures of promise’ soon be within our sight…