Since the surreal context exacerbated some of my mental symptoms, including dissociation and displacement, it made sense to adopt a largely extrospective approach to the poems, building on events as they unfolded, as part of my attempt to negotiate a way back to physical and mental wellbeing. Being disabled, ventilator-dependent and on the UK Government’s ‘high risk’ register, increased my sense of social isolation, as well as raising questions about the situation of people with disabilities, with respect to medical treatment during the pandemic. For example, at the height of the crisis, the BMA released a statement in which they advocated a ‘utilitarian’ rather than a ‘person-centred’ approach to care, in which intensive treatment would be reserved for those deemed most likely to survive. My contacts within the health service have suggested that such decisions were based upon a ‘frailty score’, which has been alarming for many people. Therefore, these poems also examine the extent to which human rights have been and are being eroded, during the pandemic, and the way in which language is being used by authorities and media, in an attempt to create the impression that we are at war, rather than dealing with an epidemic.
In terms of format, this collection begins with a series of 104 twelve-line poems, followed by longer poems to end the collection. Mine and Jayne’s combined age at the time of our crash was 104. The purpose of the shorter format for the opening series of poems was partly practical, as when I first returned to writing I had very little energy and had even forgotten how to use a computer. The shorter format also fitted the idea of taking extrospective ‘snapshots’ of the new environment in which I found myself, with themes rippling through the series of poems. The longer poems, on the other hand, have allowed for perhaps more in-depth considerations of recent events, hopefully, therefore, working alongside the shorter poems.