Factual & Narrative Work

'Breakdown of Skins' by Marty Stalker

I decided to get creative with my thoughts on the lockdown over the last six months, collaborating again with incredible talent from Northern Ireland. 'Breakdown of Skins' was written by Paula Matthews, narrated by actress Maggie Cronin and scored by composer James Everett. Big thanks to their hard work on this passion project of mine.

'Breakdown of Skins' by Paula Matthews.

I washed my hands
over and over like a lullaby
chasing the monster away
until my skin broke down,

showed my broken skin
to one who washed her hands
over and over like a lullaby;
and she gave me her balm.

It healed my hands
because she knew how to deal
with the wounds exposed
when the layers are worn away

from the days and days
of trying to keep it at bay,
make everyone safe,
keep together apart.

It’s breaking our hearts
in the car parks
of shops we have shared
without knowing each other for years,

we’ve been disguised,
mandatory masks we wear,
there were those unseen tears
shed remotely at funerals of friends

instead of holding the hands
of the bereft. Lonely bedsides
of those who are left
fighting for breath.

Weeping across the world.
Never before in our lifetimes
have skins been so broken down
revealing the wounds beneath.

A search for the truth,
am I afraid of you?
Of what touching might do?
Is all the news true?

It’s hard to believe our eyes
as we scroll through the pain,
look for the lies and sanitise
the snowballing fear for

thousands of vulnerable people.
We realise the value of elders
and for once feel their pain
at being locked in their rooms

looking out windows
at newborn grandchildren
they can only hope to hold
if the worse doesn’t happen.

The real home schooling
was families baking,
and gardening and eating
and living together, we said

‘It won’t last forever.’
The virus, this breakdown
of so many skins.
But we don’t know when
The next lockdown begins.

The second wave,
a fear that hangs over
our children’s plans.
Confusion over exams.

We are certain that things are uncertain,
Kindness is spreading thinner and thinner.
Together we’ll get to choose if
everyone loses, or humanity wins.