So the balloon of numbers,
so shiny on New Years Eve,
loses lustre on day two of the year.
What do you do?
Give up and just stare?
Or commit to the process that life’s not fair.
my creative heart has been
beating but not seen,
patiently not known,
hoping, lying in wait
that one day, like this,
I would notice its pulse
and take heed of its sounds
listen to its beat,
see all its signs,
act on its guidance.
Create, at last,
what makes it sing.
A full-hearted swing
at life’s infinite joy.
(pic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/cuteimage)
I’ve been apologising for oh so long,
as I explain and cringe my choices,
that I lost the point of me.
Born, I was too much crying,
too many nappies, too much bother
to feel there was a point to me.
A child, I was told I was far too messy,
warned to be good and stay quiet.
There was no point to me.
Teenaged, I was never allowed my style,
was asked did I think I looked good in that.
I cried and searched the point to me.
Studied, I gained diplomas, degrees,
which I thought would make me whole.
Looking back, I wonder the point in that.
Grown up, and business gave me power
to manage, to lead, to create.
My star waned: what was the point of me.
A mother, a new life with other fertile ones
I thought would give me meaning.
Playground bitches destroyed the point of me.
Stressed, I feel the yawn of my heart.
Pleasing others from dawn to dusk:
who would ever make a point of that?
Broken, a life with a faded façade
and scaffolding all torn away.
I start to vision the death of me.
Darkened, I think of ways to loosen
my grip on this mortal soil.
What the **** was the point of me?
Soul-bound, I’m saved from today’s maudlin.
Tomorrow I’m not so sure.
What’s the point of staying here?
Awakening, I take a daily breath
that surprises me each morning.
The only thing that keeps me alive
is the point one day I’ll believe in.
You’re there when I’m not there,
when I shut down, when I don’t care.
You’re there when I feel full
when I’m empty, when I’m cruel.
You were there when someone died,
when I’ve hated, when I’ve lied.
You’re there when I’m absent
You hold the space, just when I can’t
cope with what’s going on. You hold
what’s in here, from loo bowl to fool’s gold.
You’re there when nobody else is.
Thanks to you, I’m re-finding my fizz.
under my duvet, onesie-d and warm
at parties with mates, patter from mouth and glass in hand
in meetings that count, with lipstick and heels
to show my feelings, expose an emotion
to express on paper the novel within
to say to the world what’s really in my heart
Aren’t they both
two sides that chafe?
I can sense it coming: the second I do something
that brings you displeasure.
For want of cliché, I see your face grow dark. Your mouth
becomes taut. I feel the pressure
in my tight little tummy.
I cast around quick for what I’ve done wrong.
Was it my socks that were too separate?
Bedroom too scruffy? Homework left undone?
Or was it my breathing that annoyed you so.
You couldn’t bear noise
when you had one of your heads.
The tiptoeing I did gave me fabulous pointes,
to the stage I could walk without leaving a sound.
But what stretched the bow
to the arrow of your aim
was your tut and your sigh
like the end of world was nigh
just cos I’d pulled out my ribbon
or opened the curtains wrong.
Your rage would instantly shut out
any view that would challenge your own.
You felt the right and the need to shout
at those who needed you most.
A sigh could be on its own
but a tut would precede 7, 8, 9
and then 10. The scariest number of all,
said in the slowest of ways
as a countdown to lash out and hit
if I didn’t shape up, pipe down and sit.
And so to hear your sigh, years after the first
when I haven’t done exactly
as your vision dictates,
a terror strikes the heart of me,
takes my thighs
as my confidence vibrates.
I have no memory of what it was like
but I sense it in faces who see me with spite.
I hear it in their tut
I shudder with their sigh.
I hope this memory is a healing goodbye.
it used to be all about me
now it’s kind of all about them
because when I help all of them out there
I learn things about me in here
and in seeing things about me
I grow and understand more
which helps me understand them
and isn’t that life’s adventure…?
While you’re that shadow under the tree
you own me.
While you’re the road rage in that car
you own me.
While you’re that person who snubbed me
you own me.
While you’re that mess in my cupboard
you own me.
While you’re that bilious resentment
in my heart,
you own me.
While I blame everyone else
for my own faults
you own me.
But take back all that stuff
and make it my own?
Stop the blame.
Retract the same-old-same?
Well, maybe day-by-day
I will start
to own myself.
As you swing your hand against my chin
my babyish bones rattle within;
your palm so swift, so hard, so grim,
against my freckly, guiltless skin.
I bow my neck, cover my head
with foetal fingers that seek to protect
my sacred centre, locked from view.
But a curled-up child is always your cue
to parade your power, your strength, your hue
that bitterly, darkly claims its due.
Inside my head is light and free –
that’s the place you can’t reach me.
So, as thunder rams upon my skull,
and in your righteous fury I sense no lull,
I retreat to a place that’s barriered and safe
against which all love will lean and chafe.
I first published this poem as part of my MA Creative Writing project: Inktuition – Healing Through the Written Word. It feels appropriate to re-publish it for NaPrWriMo’s Day 12 prompt on saying things I’d like to say, but will never be able to say, to my mother. She is terminally ill with Pick’s Disease, an aggressive and early form of dementia.
My father died 14 years ago this evening: 10 minutes to 10pm on Thursday 11 March 1999. I don’t think there’s been a day gone by when I haven’t thought about him.
It’s worse in the early days, of course, when the thought flashes across my mind that I want to make that phone call to him to joke about something funny I’ve read in the paper or heard on the radio. And then I realise with searing pain to my heart that I can’t. Because he’s gone. Fourteen years down the line, the urge to speak to him is the same, and the pain of loss around his anniversary is almost as keen as when he first passed away.
I remember three months after he died, a so-called ‘friend’ said I should be over it by now. Be over what, exactly? The tears, the numbness, the inability to accept that such a mighty man had been snuffed from my life?
After the shock and all the fuss of the funeral and the sympathy cards, people’s interest wanes. Their life gets back to normal. But for a bereaved daughter there is no getting back to normal. There’s only the day-to-day getting through, and the renegotiating a life whose volume has been dialled down several notches. Whose colour is a few shades faded. Whose fabric of hope has been ripped to shreds.
So I don’t believe in ‘getting over’ grief. Yes, there are ‘stages’ of grief to be ‘worked through’ and the loss to come to terms with. Eventually. But I defy anyone who’s lost someone darling and dear to them to say that one day they’re completely ‘over it’.
Grief will always have a grip on my heart. But perhaps by remembering my sadness, by honouring my grief, I am keeping alive my father’s spirit within me.