I didn’t expect 
to be nervous. In 
the morning, light 
shone through 
the coloured glass.
I was nervous, 
but happy. After 
losing auntie, after 
losing my best 
friend, I said please 
don’t point your 
temperature gun 
at my head. We 

watched the news. 
We worked 84 
hours a week and 
only received 
a rainbow badge. 
He lost his work 
overnight. Never 
ending screen time. 
I’ve not danced 
with anyone in a 
year. My daughter 
was born. I got 
to know the shops 
in Wood Green. 

Four cabs, that’s 
how many I tried 
to flag down 
to get here. Don’t 
know how they 
knew. Was it 
my hair? My skin 
tone? I wore shades 
to hide my eyes. 
A snow moon 
hung over London 
as I travelled 
home. It looked 
like I felt. 

Listen to the poem here

Artistic Statement

‘The Crick’ draws on response data collected from visitors to The Crick Institute during its vaccination program, and an interview conducted with a volunteer. As much as possible, I tried to avoid imposing my preconceptions on these responses. But I was struck by the overriding sense of anxiety they contained. This seemed to stem less from a fear of being vaccinated than from the ongoing trauma of the past year. It felt – and still feels – important not to ‘close off’ this trauma, either through over-interpretation or by offering a false sense of consolation. I decided to keep to the language of the responses, only altering personal pronouns and syntax where appropriate. I wanted the multiple voices to come together of their own accord, expressing the simultaneous anger, grief and hope of this moment. Formally, short lines felt appropriate. Sentences stutter and break off, as if unable to carry the weight of their experience. There’s hurt in these words, but also the strength that comes from expressing that hurt openly.

Artist Bio

Will Harris is a London-based writer and the author of RENDANG, which was a Poetry Book Society Choice, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2020.

Read the other poems here:

Survive(d) – Hanna Ali

Of Partings & Preludes – Momtaza Mehri

ধন্যবাদ – Nazneen Ahmed

MementoUs – Keisha Thompson

Now এই সময় – Eeshita Azad

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