Zdrasvyutye, tovarisch povar! —Greetings, comrade chef!
Note: The speaker in “Collateral Damage” is an English widow nearing her eighties, self-isolating during the first month of the COVID-19 lockdown. It’s a period during which the Westminster government blasts out the constant slogan (enforceable by new, un-debated laws) “Stay at home. Save lives. Protect the NHS.” There are a few activities exempted from the “stay at home” rule, e.g., shopping for necessities. The speaker in the poem questions this limited interpretation of human necessity. She was born during World War II and remembers the London “black-out.” The number mentioned in stanza twenty-five (’48) implies 1948, the year in which the UK’s National Health Service was founded.