Archives for the month of: August, 2012

Watching the thin white line of reflected sun brush the horizon, the constant rush brush, gentle background push of waves, the breeze plays round the back of my neck, the cloud thickens. I still feel vague heat on my feet and the hardness of wood reminding me of the weight of my legs as they rest on the table.  The sea is calm and I sit in the quiet new after yesterday’s challenges and the soul sickness of the evening.
Last night surrounded me in a vomiting panic having sat through a shared table meal, battered by the sweet old couples who had over 90 years of marriage between them. And I did my best to be antisocial and focussed on the middle distance as she painted pictures of when her husband was “so ill and do you know they even did the last rites but look,” arm squeezing laughs, “he’s still here today.”
So glad our son had eaten enough and I’d had enough, I dropped a hasty napkin, nodded my ashen face at them and took the spiral staircase to be sick in the lifts.

And now after a sobbed sleep I am still here, interrupted by voices, so I’m going in. Sun breaks through, spilling light onto the distant flat grey. Need to think how to approach today.
It all seems so pointless, empty, absolutely nothing working and the days drill out before me like the endless sea. This negative wave feels so solid right now and huge windmills appear off on our right and I feel my self railing at things I can’t conquer. It’s pulling up on the horizon like something to sail into.
Something planned for that turns up with expected unforeseeness, skirting round the turbulence but feeling the swell. This is getting me nowhere, unprepared for this hollow cold sharp wanting.
Deep out breath, need to move. 
It’s getting nearer.

7/8/12  Copenhagen, Denmark
 
Woke close to windmills in a busy port of grey spiky tug boats and a weather that’s as unsure as me.
The dense fog of the last two days has eased with the new landscape. This is why I do this. Our way to see outside our boxes.
Six years ago I was surrounded by them, packed high and full and we left the old house for the long journey round the corner, to spread out and grow in the garden. And now the garden gets left as long as possible and I’m trying to help us both grow.
The sun is forcing through over the pillars and cranes. Windmills still waving at me – need to fill the rucksacks.

Inland I stand behind, watching our son move through the clamouring clicking, to grasp his own image of The Little Mermaid and feel an affinity, out of my element with a new identity, striving to get to a place I can’t reach. And we float by spires wrapped in dragon tales and I’m comfortably lost in our story.

I watch the wirlygigs squat gracefully into the horizon trying to hold their image until they become distant sticks,  eaten by the clouds, left in a crisp and clean world, smokeless, efficiently giving it back.
White ribbons build in the heavy, green black, rushing alongside and away. The turbines have become today’s badge. I remain in a strange place, I’m probably trying too hard. 

Back then we’d moved in by now, kettle on, our son back from friends, takeaway for tea amongst the dust and newness.

They’re still hanging on, they’re not quite out of sight yet. White lines caught by the sun. A plane breaks my thoughts, cuts over us at right angles. Some other collection of others, heading somewhere for some reason. So much movement while I stand and sway and watch. I look right, I really can’t see them anymore.
I look left in the direction we’re heading.

8/8
Challenging sea day. I sit out now, need my sleeves rolled down. We seem to be chasing another ship. I lean into the wind, studying the change of clouds and a strange yellow smudge arcing to the right. I realise it’s our trail of smoke, pastel pushed into the whiteness. The clouds hang low and light as a small propeller plane chugs over the stern.
Deep in Baltic coldness, the charcoal rich water threatening a bitterness, while gentle summer blues above me imagine it’s warmer. I feel calmer out here, drifting with it. I have to hang on to what works and ride out what doesn’t.

9/8/12  Stockholm, Sweden
Woke into a still flat grey crispness  and a Swedish landscape that lifted me. Finally a sense of being far from home and finding something new in the clean lines and welcoming gulls. Today needs to be better and right now I’m hopeful.

We head out for a while I listen to tales of oak war ships and short nights. A balanced place to live, thirds of lakes, parks and buildings. Protective copper coated wood blurs by and the too clever loud family telling everyone about everything. Oh-Well-Done-Toby’s mum is on permanent broadcast, filling the coach with tales of Alicante and her superficiality gnaws into the weakened gaps of my armour. We survive the 150 metre high gondola ride to the top of the city between bridges. I turned my back away from their annoying distraction and focussed on our sons face in the morning light. High and away from everything familiar, I  hold the memory carefully in my hands.

We pull away from considered, ordered neatness and leave under greyness as seagulls strafe us in the search for fish. Mixed up monochrome sits heavily over warm soft buildings. My void is filled with something I can’t put my finger on. I wave to strangers. The cranes look like compass points over the rock, pushing development, change and growth. I’m fascinated by the gulls and join them on the breeze. Everything in flux.
My transience remains.

Heading  further East, a coldness easing in. Strange landscape, small obscure islands litter the calm metal sheet of water. Patterns knit and weave across it as we push through. This bleakness has a comfortable familiarity.

10/8/12  Tallin, Estonia
Struggling with our sons button pushing. How do I make this work for both of us?

The dock is edged in odd concrete shapes, curving round, kissing the car park like some herd of frozen creatures. We’re both interested in them for a while and re connect before the search for our coach.
We bounce and rattle over cobbles hearing tales of new brides dropping rocks into lakes, releasing balloons and doves to say goodbye to their old names. And I’m struck by their hopeful romanticism, persisting amongst the un nerving medieval backdrop.
We pass the Palace of Happiness as our light, youthful guide tells us her family were on a waiting list for a phone and if you’re too far down you just don’t get one. I tap away on my screen feeling privileged in my Western pain.

And up passed the Kissing Hill where they come to take photos after the service and the old cars and vans beep their loud tradition at the frequent newlyweds.
Deep into the town and Toompea Castle flashes me back, looks like our Italian lakes and the castle we climbed on honeymoon. And the steps were steep and narrow and you photographed me from the opposite tiny window. And we were trapped in separate turrets, feeling our story unfold over the ochre courtyard beneath.
And I wander round with our son in the current Estonian moments as our still, bright cine reel jumps and crackles it’s plot through the narrow passageways. Passed Long Leg street and Short Leg street, joined at the point where old and new meet and the town limps with contrast, like me.

Sitting out later. Seagulls are back, the shawl I bought is too thin for any warmth but the opposing colours appeal to me.  I remember fifteen years ago and heading south for the start of something new and now I drill in further East, feel the harshness of a culture torn from trust, a bitterness of identity and I feel odd, misplaced, misunderstood, marginalised, uprooted and overthrown.

This day has been a better one on the domestic front. The plentiful, traditional non-essential essentials gave us both some lightness. The delicate, uneven, thin lilt of accents reminded me I’m far from home and the earlier severity of the weeks feelings have frozen to strangeness in this slightly unyielding place. 
I see a town split, a contrast of needs and wealth, a place of redefining. Their flags wave blue, black and white. Blue of rivers, black of soil and white for purity – Hope.  Proud to no longer be prize or target..
The gulls follow us and fly so low and near. I watch their feet sway in the wind. There’s a growing harshness, I go inside. getting ready for the feelings and moments to come.

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mother of pearl x

My head is blocked up with half remembered thoughts and feelings and images from a time that rests no where.
I remember her carpet and the hard chair tucked away that I would sit on, half there, half keeping beyond the main event. And the early days of the dog with the ball and how I avoided the bitten, slimy missile despite our toddler’s interest. And its brighter now, I can see her limp shuffle in through the half obscured door, the one with the slanted plastic handle . Was it inlaid with mother of pearl or have I made that up? I can see it though, I can feel it, smooth, cold, swinging back by the grandmother clock with all it’s innards showing, messed and tinkered with, damaged by the real disease in her life. And she could never leave him, not now, back then.

And I remember the spiralling moments, the constant theme, the anguished words to save her, to take her from where she’d set root. But it never happened, couldn’t happen and although we looked at options, it wasn’t her time, wasn’t possible. And while the conversations play out in my head, your burning rage and desperation, feelings I’ve come to take on, to make my own, I see her bending with the little yellow dumper truck. Its full of big safe duplo bricks and they tipped rushed in a primary mess besides her chairs and our toddler fiddled with them for a while. Our preschooler built-invented places as we waited for her to rustle in, get back, to look for something once more. And we’d whisk her away before he could say too much. And we took her to Blackpool and fought through the coldness to feel like naughty children, buying her fish and chips though ‘he’ said she wasn’t allowed to have them. They were full of fat and grease and not good for her but it wasn’t her arteries we were worried about. And I can see her in that small cafe, wrapped and powdered in her warm brown coat and you sat on her right, proud, devoted, concerned. And she turned to you and said “it’s nice here, did you come here with your parents?” and I felt something in me drop away, a moment, a split second and I saw the claws of the process digging in stealthily, into her button bright mind.
And a look passed between us as you answered her but we spoke no words till later.

And all my time with her is swishing around me like the way I used to dance when I used to be that person. And I think of her in photos and your favourite one of them. Probably Thetford, might have been northern and she was around fifty, briefly made up, smiling with her small mouth, arms linked with your Dad. And he was dapper and knew it and he smirked in his self satisfied way. And as I think of him I hear his loud bluster burst though, his I’m-a-right-funny-bugger-sense of self that hid a broken sensitivity. So I see the photo, black and white although it may have colour and you always thought he looked like a young Frank Sinatra and I could see what you meant. They were your memories from before, when your Dad was still there, when life was ok, when you rode bikes with Nigel. A simple unburdened child’s moments, impossible to see the future is, with a torn and ravaged mind and an adult pain walking away from the first of the many homes she was displaced into.
And I only knew her properly for twelve years and many of those were the fading but before it all began I caught a glimplse, an distilled echo, a sound reverberating on the air, like a half remembered song that nestles in your head, and I saw her through the looking glass and knew who she had been. And we connected and remained and the song stayed in my mind and I sat close with her inbetween us and stroked her permless hair. And I know what I said and I can hear it calling now, coming back at me through the love, through the memories, through the moments.

And I couldn’t comprehend your pain but I get it now.

And now I flip to warmness, heavy august air and the grounds are lush, rich green, the birds sing but we can’t listen to them and the gravel crunches as we stand studying our shoes by the door. And I’m there holding your pain and our sons hand and his shirt is tucked in as best as we could manage. And I’m in the thick still quietness re seeing what we saw. Hearing the things we chose together and the weight of our sons arms around our shoulders and I saw your Dad take your hand as he sat on the very edge, keeping my place warm though we didn’t know it. And they had advised us the curtain rail needed oiling but it really didn’t matter in the scheme of things. And I sit there now feeling the hardwood, slippy beneath my trousers and my eyes are not as sore as I’d expected because I’d little left after the moments from the day before. And we have that time and I know what I said and the song you played me sometime later.
And I sit there numb with feeling, noting the circles on the fabric and as I look up again they hide my yellow petals.
And as I’m deep inside it our son wakes and asks me who invented warp drive and tells me the consequences of achieving Warp Ten.

And I think to myself about the song I chose and how I sat through it again eighteen months later and now our son aims his Romulan War-bird at me, dispatching fully operational quantum phase torpedoes in my direction.

We’re leaving now, window down, warm breeze on my bare arms, heading south, no one really talking. Car heavy with our thoughts.
Our sons downstairs, I get a moment to finish this though my earlier deep filled silence is scratched with American dialogue bubbling up the stairs.
I’m numb with feeling again, I don’t know what day it is, what year it is, who’s life I’m living. You’re on compassionate leave and I wait for you to come in from the shops.

You fill the house and I can’t move for reality.

I’m there frozen in time, miles and moments from the first seat. And now I sit on the end of the row and I see me from above, small and curled, thinner than the week before, taking up no space as I fill everywhere. And they look at me from the back and the side and my hair hangs round my shoulders and once or twice my head drops down. I sit brittle glassed in black, I wear her scarf again, I am not there as I look out, passed and above, through the high window out beyond my surroundings, over houses and towns and roads and hills, up the motorways to Pendle hill where you photographed me holding her arm and our son was heart beating deep inside me but right then I didn’t know.
And he sits beside me in his moment as I clutch his hand and never release the hold. And I wear the Tao necklace, can’t remember where you bought it. But it’s made of wood and one of the circles is a slightly different material and the white side is shaped from mother of pearl, like the door handle in her lounge.

In two seats, two moments
Love linked
Shimmering from pain.
X

tao flowers x

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I’m just floating at the moment, feel I’m drifting lightly with the current, simply, purposelessly being carried. I see me bumping over ripples of water, a small stick with no direction. 

It’s been like this for a while, for this first termless week. Ambling through moments and I feel uneasy like there’s something waiting, something approaching, an inevitable trap and none of this is quite real. 

My finger taps faster as the thoughts and feelings are unlocked. I remember last summer and the constant nothingness of the settee. The late night sneaking to Sainsburys when the crowds and faces had gone. The steely preparation, the loin girding, the pretence coated determination to take our son away…

And then doing it. The saturating fear, the deep yet hollow pride, the choosing, the knowledge, the fight, the resolve, the drip feed strength that came from a natural instinct, to survive, to protect, to build, to heave against inertia.

We did it – we travelled at 6 months.

And in a couple of days we’ll do it again.
The feelings are back, similar shapes to before but now a fairytaled patchworked eiderdown, rich with ancient thread, silky weavings of half recognised pictures, appliquéd layers of days of grief, aged, loved edges  fretted smooth by anxiety, quilted memories dense with pain. I see me from above, shrink wrapped in images, swaddled in this time last year. 

This time last year the blanket was new, raw and rough to the touch, insistent, persistent, factory fresh colours bleeding all over my small white body. I clutched it, wore it, had no choice, hid inside, subdued submerged. Scared and shaking. 

I’m still covered now. The dye has stained my skin, the feelings imprinted on me, tattooed into my being. My stark cold cell with prison wire-wool bedding has morphed into a wood cutters cottage. The clanking steel bed, spine achingly stabbing into my tired muscles has grown into Grandma’s bed, narlded, chewed hardwood, hard work to climb into, deep and crisp and even the pillows patterns entangle themselves into my hair. It smells of ginger biscuits and warm wisdom and the bed fills the whole room, the whole house and the story itself.
I look down on my tiny curled up words, tightly balled under the thick eiderdown. I feel the fabric. Squares bartered for from distant bazaars, scraps found fusty in the backs of cupboards and specially chosen pieces, picked out for their own precious qualities. I see the image of the feelings, the timeless pain sewn in with love. Stitched in tears, embedded in the weft. Calloused fingertips from the dig of the needles, watching the deep hued yarn slip in, out and up, slowly encroaching over the fabric to form my coloured narrative.
 
I flip outside my cottaged world, neighbours voices push through the open window, an out of place anonymous whistling of a disturbingly happy worker and a grey soft stillness of a summer town after rain.

Back in my cottage I burrow down further, pulling the familiar close around me. I see the colours, feel the silk, know the pictures woven through grief.
 
Last year, this year.
Same experience, different shade.  Same loss, different shapes. 

Same story, different cover.
Different moment, same love.

I pull back up and out of the image. See the roof from above, the heat of colours inside diffuse out through the windows, casting a hazy warm light into the air. The red tiles fade to ochre, the chimmney chuggs out the pain until it smokes pencil swirls into the overhanging trees.
The knotted tangles of growth tighten their grip around my shack, the green turns to grey. I float higher till all I see is a wood. Dense, complex, matted with change, hiding me underneath, my place, my rooms and my bed. One heavy embroidered shield cloaking me, small with strength. I sleep under it all.

As I let go, up and away, the landscape falls back, slowly widening my view from the dark forest to the trickled silver river in the distance, the soft flowing water and its relentless rhythm. My focus shifts back to the stick, sodden, peeling, carried by the current. Drifting along with the force.

Our son stomps up the stairs engrossed in his own story
‘Powering engines – Now!’

I need to finish the packing. 
X

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