“At the end of March the government wrote a letter to the leader of every local authority in England asking them to accommodate all people sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough and to find alternative accommodation for those in “shelters” where they could not easily self-isolate by the end of the weekend, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” –

Local authority rough sleeper accommodation guidance


This is what I heard:
you are holed up in a hotel
named after one of the first birds

Noah released from the Ark
and, confined to your room,
you are going slowly berserk. 

I imagine you cloaking
the corporate eiderdown
around your shoulders,

stepping to the window,
blowing cigarette smoke
into the uncommonly quiet

city street.  A strange break,
it must seem, to have been sent
here to protect others

from the virus lurking in doorways.
Perhaps I should write
a letter from the heart, 

letting on that I share your fear;
reminding you of the hope
I still have, as precious as flight. 

But for now, I will include your name 
in a prayer to a God I barely
believe in. It’s a start.


Maggie Sawkins lives in Portsmouth where she delivers creative writing projects in community settings. Winner of the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for 'Zones of Avoidance'. She Tweets @SawkinsMaggie