I’m used to silence – it’s virtually part of my job description – but even I have been struck by the quiet that has settled over the village where I live. No trains, no planes, little traffic; just the occasional boy racer flooring it and annoying the neighbours as he returns to a house-share up the lane.
It feels strange not to connect in person with the people I love and like, to keep my distance – as if we are all caught up in a weird social experiment. Which, in a way, we are… because of a virus that is casting a fearful shadow over human beings around the world.
In these days of social distancing, family, friends and colleagues have been in touch more often than usual – reaching out over the phone and on screen. Through modern technology and fibre optics, the voice creates a bridge from the heart. In the midst of so much fear, disease and devastation, many of us, myself included, are rediscovering the power of connection, speaking and listening to each other again instead of texting or typing.
So here is my voice to you, in a slightly tinny recording, reading a poem by a writer who was used to solitude and to keeping her own company, and who wrote when she didn’t necessarily expect anyone to read her words: ‘Hope is a Feathered Thing’ by Emily Dickinson.