Resolution

December was long and dark. I lost myself in its timeless, sickly days, shrinking into my head where the voices of catastrophe are loud and dominant.

Each day as the sun sets my hope goes down with it. I light the fire and blow hard on the embers until they catch. Banishing the darkness with flames, finding comfort in its crackle.

 “I don’t even look forward to a cup of tea, even my tea joy is gone, ” I whisper in a tiny, despairing voice, “it sounds small, but it’s not.”


The Universe keeps sending me messages. Telling me not to worry, showing me that I am strong, that life is fragile and uncontrollable so I need to find a way to be ok with that.

Like the storm with the same name as my sister (who is gone) that found us at sea. As the rain and wind battered the boat, the lights of the port rising and falling in the dark, I sang my son to sleep under a table.

You can cope. You are strong.

And at lunch when Bart lost his breath. I watched, helpless, terrified, frozen to the spot as he flailed and gasped and ran. The restaurant door swung shut and I wondered if I would see him again.

Life is fragile. You have so much. Live gratefully.

I am listening but it’s hard to give in, to accept that you have no control over any of it. Over death, over life, over your kids and who they will become, who you might lose and when.

My first, fleeting response to this knowledge is to ask, “so what’s the point?” But I already know the answer to that question.

Life is the point, love is the point.

So.

I need to breathe, to resolve to learn how to live courageously and abundantly in the present. That must be my new year’s resolution, for this year and the year after that and the year after that and so on, until I am not so afraid.

Until the voices of catastrophe can’t be heard over the din of trees blowing in the breeze and the crackle of bread cooling and the sound of my littlest boy laughing delightedly at his brother who loves him and people telling me they love me.

A Trade/Something Understood

I've written some more poems. That seems to be the direction my creativity is taking of late, thoughts emerging in words, fragments of enlightenment, observations, confusions rather than clear linear pictures or narratives.

I go with the flow. 

I think it’s because poetry is the best medium for expressing almost inexpressible - Marie Howe describes this really brilliantly.

“Well, poetry holds…what can’t be said. It can’t be paraphrased. It can’t be translated. The great poetry I love holds the mystery of on being alive. It holds a kind of basket of words that feels inevitable. There’s great, great, great prose, you know, gorgeous prose. You and I could probably quote some right now. Poetry has a kind of trancelike quality still. It has the quality of a spell still, you know.”

A Trade

The universe demanded a price for my children

But I did not know until it was too late.

The coffin passed

and you tossed and churned in my belly,

new life and new death, separated by flesh and wood.

 

Two brothers for two babies

A straight swap but not a fair trade,

our joy for their sadness

our family for theirs.

 

I promise lives full of adventure

to match the ones they lived

journeys across oceans,

days spent catching fish.

Is that enough thanks for this huge sacrifice? 

Two siblings for two siblings,

two deaths for two lives.

 

Something Understood

 

It is early Spring in the Norfolk lane.

Daffodils adorn the verge in dense, luxurious puffs of yellow.

We have paused while our sandy haired boy

bends to observe a pebble or bug,

flicking the dust with a stick.

The ‘daffodil trumpets’ catch his eye

and he reaches out a fleshy finger

poking it deep into the centre of every flower

each gesture a reverential ritual,

accompanied by its own fanfare.

 

I meet your eye, 

“People ask why we’re here.

I think this might be why.

Just to be here. This.”

You nod and smile. 

The breeze rustles the poplars.

The Mirror Ghost

i.
Dense fog grounds planes and creeps into my periphery
blurring edges,
stealing vitality.
I blink away hope
Slowly
Adjusting my eyes to the four o'clock gloom where,
I am insubstantial
a mirror ghost.

I examine my sometimes pink flesh through thin, wet paper

Flesh. Not blood.
But still my heart skips
Expecting its red plush

ii.
"Go to the water"
The water, where twin lines of bladderwrack
meet on the horizon
and the cadence of the tide
matches the breath of sleep

iii.
Here's the smell of blood still
A Rorschach test of crimson and white
It is the shape of broken dreams.

I haunt a red bus
and cross the river,
whispering a private mantra
until I can lift my head
in a smile that permits light-heartedness.

Further downstream
Jacob's ladders illuminate a shimmering pool

On any other day I might take it as a sign.

 

I have good news. I am pregnant and we have reached the milestone of 13 weeks. These three months have been long, sickly and anxiety ridden, I think it will continue to be that way.  I can't quite shake the feeling that something might go wrong. I'm ok with that though, it's to be expected after all that has happened AND there are positives, like the urge to create and the poetry that virtually writes itself. 

NOTES:

Line 12: Cut by Sylvia Plath, Line 8
Line 18: V. Macbeth. Scene i 

The Note

 
High school comic
High school comic 2.jpg

If you haven’t listened to the Heavyweight podcast you’re missing a treat, it’s a master class in audio storytelling. Each episode Jonathan Goldstein helps a friend to find closure on an issue that has been affecting their life, in an often surprising and always very human way.

The podcast indulges that deepest of human desires to tie up loose ends and get some kind of resolution to the unanswered questions that plague us and hold us back. In actual fact, Goldstein’s subjects rarely get the thing they’re seeking but they always get a different perspective on their particular problem, a viewpoint that allows them to reconcile their past within themselves, to forgive and move on.

In last week’s episode Jonathan helped his friend Julia to exorcise the demons of her high school bullies. As she put it the fear she experienced at that time lingered in her physiology, it was still impacting her decisions and actions and she didn’t want it to wield that power any more.

Listening to Julia work through her experience was moving in ways I didn’t expect and after the episode had finished some of my more painful high school memories came to the surface – so this comic practically wrote itself. I think it will feel familiar to anyone who has ever been a teenager, it’s such a hard time, a time when we’re a slave to our feelings of insecurity. Those insecurities make some of us act in ways that we will later regret very deeply.

I’m no exception. I have been on the receiving end but I have also been on the other side. I’ve made people feel shit, I’ve made people feel excluded and lonely, I’ve been unnecessarily unkind and I can see now that on every single one of those occasions I did it to make myself feel better, or desired, or popular, or safe, or powerful because I was insecure. I felt those people were prettier, or funnier, or cleverer or better at art or more popular than me and so I tried to tread them down.

That is never ok. It’s never ok to victimise others to make yourself feel better or to get yourself where you want to be. (Do you hear me President Trump and Prime Minister May?)

I’ve apologised to some of the people that I went out of my way to hurt but  if I have been unkind to you and I haven’t said sorry then please (as Julia says in the podcast) imagine my slightly overweight and highly insecure teenage self giving you an enormous hug.  

Here’s to a kinder future.