September 2021: non-human companions
When we chose this edition’s provocation we were certain that it would result in a rather slim volume of poetry. After all, it would mean that contributors would need to write something specifically for us – who has a spare poem about their pet or garden lying around and waiting for publication?
The overwhelming response to our provocation stands testimony to how much human lives have been altered by the physical, emotional and social challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced to isolate from each other to reduce the spread of disease, many of us have sought companionship and connection with animals and objects that have taken on new and greater meanings than ever before.
Adopting rescue greyhounds has been such a pleasure for me. Billy and Charlie are joyful and trusting. Their need to be walked gives me a legitimate reason to leave home during lockdown and they are blithely oblivious to the bad news stories that seem to swamp my every social media account and conversation.
Charlie has become my velcro hound, assuring me that lockdown is actually an excellent idea and humans should be sent home to spend time with their pets on a regular basis (no protesting here). He is also a reminder that I have been able to give a very traumatised dog the love and security he needed to become a playful, happy and affectionate pet. A few moments fondling his velvet soft ears is the best mindfulness activity I have discovered.
I hope you find the joy and solace in these poems that our contributors have drawn from their non-human companions.