Wednesday 31 March 2021


This morning’s strange dreams were interrupted by a phone call. ‘I’m going to make you very happy,’ said my immunology nurse (after commenting on my sleep roused state). I knew what was coming. ‘You can go back to IVIg at the hospital in two weeks.’ 

Hurrah hurrah! This is what freedom might look like for me. I received the official government letter informing me that as a clinically extremely vulnerable patient, I could stop shielding. All the same, they said, please still take precautions. So it didn’t seem like freedom would look any different. But this ... release from weekly thigh infusions to monthly arm infusions - oh this might spark the cocoon to stretch and poke a wee wing out, test the currents of air, and who knows? Take a small merry flight. Where? Who knows? Tops of trees? How high do butterflies fly anyway? 

Meanwhile, my nephew turned TEN... 

Meanwhile, my friend Suramya sent me E. H. Gombrich’s ‘The Story of Art’, and I am up close and personal with Dürer (hare, 1502) and Rembrandt (1637)... 

Meanwhile, I am life drawing with my mother every week, attending classes on Feminism and Plants (Ecological Decline and the Rise of Witchcraft, anyone?) and this weekend, I shall be in France, in Plum Village, with the Zen Buddhist Nuns of Lower Hamlet, practising mindfulness and reconciliation. Ok, maybe not actual France... France/ Vietnam through a zoom window. We take our freedom where we can, right? 

Tuesday 23 March 2021


Today is exactly one year to the day when Boris J & Matt H decreed lockdown in the UK - doors closed, windows open a tiny crack to let the fresh air and birdsong in. That is, if you had fresh air and birdsong to begin with. 

We have had several slow and steady leaks throughout the year so today, in the perfect visual manifestation of lockdown, we have a home surrounded by scaffolding, a locked in grid made of metal.

I can’t really remember what I did with my first six months other than cope with incessant colonisations of bacteria and antibiotics and a nifty little steroid inhaler, but I do know that I have made the most of the past few months attending all sorts of classes and courses and cooking lots. This, in the face (or eyes) of a vitreous detachment that has not abated one iota. Some kind of hopeful determination that persists even as I am a walking duvet, longing to stay in bed, and feeling the most tender bliss when I arrive, at night, once more beside my bed. Navroze has come and gone ... we lit candles... friends have been lost to us... we lit candles... family have stayed far away from each other to prove the deepest love ... Zen Buddhist practise asks this question of us: ‘What is this?’ Breathe the question in, breathe the question out. A million different answers arise and fall away, every time. I prefer the Buddha’s question and answer in one: 'What has come to be.' It simultaneously accepts what is, while forcing us to acknowledge how it has come to be. Gratitude and anxiety in a single breath. What it means to be human.

Or, if you're seven years old, you can be more blunt about the good, bad and the wicked enemies of the world!!

Thursday 4 March 2021


I stumble on a root
as I pass the prettiest cottage,
the one that makes me look twice, anyway;
there's no one around
and then, suddenly, there are, 
hordes of us, out for the sun.

I am cosy enough, bobble hat
and turtle neck, winter boots and long black hair -
well, I say black - I mean tiger
striped, the covid Bengal look, 
plumped up by inertia,
endangered only by sleepy somnolence.

Past more roots and the London 50 sign,
ochre homes and ochre leaves,
leaves burning on the friendly wind,
banks of snowdrops,
blackbirds heralding
that long awaited thing. 

I park myself by the berry tree,
damping my book on a mossy wall - 
these are covid tricks,
for covid times,
when paths are lean, and 
not a mask in sight. 

The 'SHE' fell off the Shelford sign
at the Chinese take away - 
a mark of this year's wear and tear;
the mayor and the spy 
put up plaques of their own -
a mark of wealth and long roots sown. 

The poet snails by,
tithing her time,
she was grown when she arrived,
and though loved, unseen, unknown,
she became that awaited thing 
and SHE WROTE HERE will do. 

© Shaista Tayabali, 2021

Photography by me, except for the blackbird in full throated song by Kathrin Swoboda. 

Linked to Dverse Poets for Thursday poetry night ...