Archives for category: Grief

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April 14th

I’m back in Paris on the first trip, the fear on the rattle trap plane, the closeness of the engines and I remember waiting in the dark in the alien lit streets by too many suitcases, while you looked. And we were lost and tired and couldn’t find the Rue. And we’d misread an ‘h’ for an ‘l’ and stumbled upon it later in our aching feet and disappointment. And the room was a box and the bathroom had no door and somehow on Easter Sunday we took our induction crisis on the metro and found a brand new place. The small round owner rolled out to the breakfast room, the polished stone stairs, the arched brickwork, our cellar under the city with warm incessant croissants and I see it now, in my morning under our son’s steady breath.

And the bateaus were confusing and we learned how to negotiate the traffic swarm, in those hours by la Gare when everything began with a le and we wandered around the boulevard trying to reach the other side. And it’s cropped up now for the first time, though it’s the third time around this date and it’s sneaked out at me, these ancient images and the biting chill and fusting heat. And I sit on the hard stone in Our Lady and wonder about the women who came to help and I couldn’t see her face although you did but I remember her deep patterned dress and her blessing to us as the taxi arrived.

And the hours ticked days until our venture up the tower and I can see the top with my parka inside out, the one I’d bought for Cornwall and we were worried but did it anyway. And somewhere there’s the photo, me-hair everywhere, lying backwards into the wind, its force taking my weight as I squeal in the gust, a flying squirrel, battered, smiling, in our beginnings, above our new selves looking out.

April 15th

Bit adrift today, anchor up, no wind in sails and no sense of land, not that I can see.
Just float for a while, the weather will change soon.
Earl grey in my chipped ceramic warms my leg, sun’s trying to come up, I’m trying to get up. A sense of heading out into something but I’m not quite packed and the condensation on my compass makes it difficult to read.
I feel my breath against my hand as I breathe out. Waiting. Drifting.

The post forces itself into my hallway.
I’d better move.
26 months.

April 16th

Been looking back at old notes, the walks from school in the rain, the hill and Bailey’s wet paws and the cast iron bridge, my path from there to now. The necessary walks that sustained me, the easing out of a world, the osmosis into this one and I have photos that call for a canvas. I promised myself I’d do that, my triptych of scenes from a time, from the shifting and I know each leaf and each stem and when they hang on my wall I’ll see them all, all of me in those moments, wrapped around each soaked blade of grass but others will just see a hill.

My morning walks faded with the growth of our son, an unfolding seeping of change and I see myself on the bench, through these old curtains, oblivious to weather putting one foot in front of the other. Other people use the bench but they don’t know it’s mine.
And the bridge over that road always sensed a change, a move away from the brush of traffic, a dropping into trees and paths and hiding in the undergrowth that grows wild despite my absence.

And I’m in, not out, encased by old walls today and I acknowledge the pull but stay where I am. It’s like the trick photo I took of our son, different shots in one, copied and pasted into a panorama of ten children and I leave this place and float above the house, over the wet roads to the open spaces filled with me and we walk over every blade in haphazard directions, looking out to a strange horizon, looking down tapping on here and our matter buzzes within its form and we wander and wait and exist.

And I see her curled under your rainless sky, your clouds cropped for no one, not today. And I fly back to the first house and the testing out of cameras, light conditions and bikers jackets up the little pathways, through nettles to the top. And from way up there we’d spot our roof, nestled in three just below, just in view if you walked just far enough.

And I’m there now, over us and in that tiny place I see your Mum, curlers and dressing gown, down for the event. One night on the sofa bed before tomorrow. And I was one silk flower short for the place cards and whizzed around the shop in the town, by the hotel that encased us, in the hours after the moments, the moments spent when we went from that house, the house I revisit from here on the hill, as I lie on our bed, displaced, on this bridge between the worlds.

16th – later
Wet pebbles

The pond is greening up, layers of life taking hold. From this angle the stir of water is chaotic, patterns fight and dance for position. The force creates a reaction, underneath swirled grey green reams of silk, a submerged altered beauty waves and ripples under the thin molecules of water. Gushing folded clouds of form carried by their current. The waterfall, highlighted white faded glass, cycling down into the waiting storm. A veil of power over the spewed up spheres that cluster, hurry, smash and pop. The small stone bridge is mottled with age, worn down steps either side, their difference barely showing.

It was placed here years before me and will erode long after I’ve stopped thinking about water. Flecks of warmth from our son’s new fish sparkle up at me. There’s a golden light to the greens, it looks cooling, a welcome seduction on a summers day – but I know it’s cold. The algae builds, holds its prey, an old autumn leaf, its crunch soaked out, gives in and sticks in the gloop. The weak sun dots the surface, nearly enough to shield my eyes and I watch the effects of water under this micro world village as it spools and billows, loud and gentle, a freedom of form, an inverted taffeta dress of molecules.

This bride over pebbles, churning through cycles, a certainty under the laws.

I feed the fish, they break the surface, shaking circles out in unison, stretching the puddle of sun.
They forage beneath me, eager and woken, responding with instinct to their world.

The sun’s going in, I’m cold.
I’m following its lead.
The wind messes my hair backwards as I hang on to the bridge for support.

April 17th

And now its back…
The empty house full of anticipation,
waiting for Diane to arrive.
Sat by the stairwell with women doing jobs around me. Diane battling with victorian laces, hot hair and the smell of lilies.
Tea going cold on the shelf at my side while nails turn shimmered pink.
Peter back from his walk getting changed in the tiny packed room, bringing in flowers while I prepared myself upstairs.
Stepping into reams, Diane at the back strapping in.
Everyone waiting downstairs, while the photographer moving table.
The old mirrored sliding doors and trying to turn at the top of the landing.
The tug of the weight of the fabric, the slow descent.
The smell of the lipstick.
The clamber shove of climbing in the car, the high packed seat of clouds,
rustled swaying on the journey up the road.
The swishing to the door, the heavy wood, the iron lock out of sight.
The chain around my neck.
The hush brush of turning right, the short steps to there.
And the stopping.
And the waiting.
And the look.
And later out into the glare of light
and the trees were full and the ‘Dean Martin’ photo is loud inside my mind.

And each moment flutters around me, delicate pastels, sticking in my hair.
And we’re herded around for the smiling with the duck pond still to come. And the memories line up like our guests, in a row, each waiting to have their time with me and they stretch down the hotel hall, biding their moment, their chance.
The silk of the cravats, the lines and jokes, Negotiating veil as I stood to speak. Beating your Dad at his own game and all the faces blurring around me in snatches of time.

Re-runs in April loops of strangeness, all of us with younger hair, playing our parts on this day.
And I let it play out, like the guests, the ones you seek out, the ones you hang onto and ones you try to avoid.
They’re all here in their finery while I look at the milky sky through my empty glass.
Through this sense of perception, from the brim to the dregs, still pouring long and clear, out from under our bridge and beyond.

xxx

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We were in Padstow now, the maze of a cottage with a fire to stoke and ceilings to bang heads on and an old red phone box down the road that I used in the days before mobiles. And you rode the Camel trail when I stayed indoors and wrote in your journal on Easter Sunday, it always seemed to be Easter Sunday and the paper was made of fine quality, with the quotes on each corner and it travelled with us as we moved. Your Mum bought it for you the Christmas before me, I think and I peered through its pages, trying to undo your skrawl in the early days when I sat on the carpet and you were up the wooden stairs. And that holiday took us to places, passing by the sights that became familiar, the scenes that we returned to, the conversations over the harbour with me ducking passed lobster as you fired the snaps of orange. And we hadn’t even reached the contents page, not then, not really.

And after your trip out (when you found the injured bird) we found ourselves in quaint corners and negotiated the cliff walk to Bedruthan. I had the first of the parkas and it whipped around me as I ran and the caves were off to the right, the beach rock scattered in ancient things and the sand a wet squish, a powered pale grain beneath our feet. And my pockets heavy on the walk up the hill, treasure troved with the stones I picked up. The slabs of age that sit in their place, where they’ve lived for years, on the windowsill now absorbing heat in their solid memory, their time crushed permanence, slatey grey in our emphemera. And we clambered up to the tea shop, the perfect out post, white washed and small, battered tin sign creaking a welcome and the teacakes dripped and chipped mugs thawed our fingers in our found shelter at the top of that world.

And I listen to the sounds of this world, our son blowing up sea monsters on the kitchen floor, the wicker basket straining here, the quiet grey clouds hiding the days first sun. I hear him humming, some warfare enfolding and all I can see is the work ahead, the wondering, the easing, the exploration to come and none of it’s made of Lego and all of it has to come out.

And I’m beached today, a great whale carcass, shining rubbered blubber on my shore. I’m still in Cornwall by the pretty boats, the crisp air up our nose, the clank of my netted seashells, the best meal on our last night out and I walk passed us with our family, ten years into the marriage when we all returned. And we followed you by the harbour, holding our son’s hot hand, looking across to the chip shop as our first trip replayed out in parallel. Harbour on the left, walking back and in the distance, we were there, in the remnants of us, in the chip shop, warm and wet, drying out over the white and blue napkins.

And I found the cottage, back then through archaic old brochures. I managed to find a lovely place without fishing the internet and I rang and spoke to owners and took directions with a pen. And those years later we drove by, when my Google search did its job. And scrunched up now, here and estranged, I see us all in the car, laughing and silly, waving to ourselves in the past as we sped by on the trip home. And our car was full of us, our plans and detritus and ways and our son was full of the moment, like he is now, though different.

And at this moment I doubt any of it is real and I need to move from the bed but I’m stuck. I’m stuck in Padstow with the crackle of fire, longer hair and eyes that haven’t seen this world. It always seemed to be Easter Sunday and now it’s me that writes. Our son breaks bows downstairs, some catastrophe on his ocean like your ancient mariner quote on the last holiday. But the albatross was flying straight for me and now I can’t see the waves ahead for the flapping and feathers around me.

I need to let it all settle but at the moment there is no now, only the embryo of who we became, trying to find who we were, in the salt air, in the March sun, passed the stately home wall with the deer on the gate, in that universe, expanding.

Easter Sunday when we were young.

Ps (you rescued the bird).

xxx

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I’m back there in their small hallway where I used to live, with the heavy oak door, cherry stained in my mind, and you turned up early in that jumper, the one you liked but I questioned. And we chatted over salad, no doubt, and their cloth was honeyed rust in velvet, the knap short and firm but soft to the touch. And we left for the walk in the village with that joke about our pine trees, the one we never could agree on, even after all the years.

And old pubs from my youth, thick sticky carpets and everything swirling in the places I used to go, when college finished and we took over tables and laughed late, in the simple years before you came. And I took you back there and the chat rambled around and I strayed from the path of your thoughts, reeled slowly back in as we discussed the things that defined us and the park was wide and ambling.

The awkward newness of the bench and the bird enclosure where all but us had flown. And the evening’s rearrangements before a meal at the Fat Cat and the first of the chicken salads, oversized bowls and us, there, tiptoeing through the first course.
And we were so young somehow, frozen there on my doorstep, held in that moment of looking and I pulled the door closed behind me as we set off on our way.

I sit here still, in moments. I know where the jumper is and I unravel its colours as I see the glass corridor and their starchy blues and whites, the smell of sterility and the chrome wheels as I left, my coat and face older, my battered leather satchel, soft and creased with age. And they pulled the door closed behind me as I was carried off on my way.

And I’m here and there, lost and present with 19 years in between them, the girl at the door, and your eyes, your eyes that took me from there to here, to this women and her work and her love and this life.

This moment. Now.
x

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Suddenly I’m in her room, that little narrow room over the gardens. And it looked down the road, over grey houses and all the doors had buzzers and I remember the little conservatory to the side and the place where she sat in the sun.

And the women called Janet who didn’t quite belong, played cards in the corner and we talked to her in those days. The days of waiting and sitting and I tried so hard not to let my feelings show but always failed miserably. And right now through my own window in this false world it all comes back and our son was a few years younger and we bought her the soft toy when the connections started to break.

And I’m sat on her bed, by the pillow while he played on the floor with his pens and we rearranged the photos on the sideboard in the empty competition with your brother.

And right now I have her fog and I’m trying to find my way out of it, swirling it’s fingers around my mind, a steady grip of confusion and I see her and her mothering and her unstable walk and I feel the pressure of her arm, coated in her bright red fleece, on the walks to nowhere near where she used to live. And she leans on my right side and you walk ahead. And I’m thrown by my window, looking out, like she did, surrounded by the things she cherished, held by the warmth and the love.

And she came back so brightly, bringing my old world with her and I see the span of her life, her
mothering, her gifts. And I fragment in the pieces, a cut up mess of memories, trapped in her photos smiling out, her sepia world and mine now. Somehow stuck, indelibly living in that room, living with trinkets of thoughts, permanently who we were, and her hill was nearly a mountain.

And somehow, years from now, I sit somewhere in an old home, looking out over my life, a folded old lady, with layers of silk and moments, surrounded by warmth and love and I see a thread of mothers, through the dust and sunlight.
Ours, creating us, forming who we became and me now here, not old, not just yet, sitting in the light looking out.

My own birth story, my continuation of our family, shining through the debris in my mind. Through these March moments, reconnecting with it’s subtle light, in these days, in these hours that twirl me dizzy.

Different rooms and views.
Universes layering.
Unravelled, in this place,
this thread of mothering.

Ps
A fly revs up behind me, I should look, it could be a wasp. My left knee and arm are warm as the sun creeps round, should be reading, research to do, but my head is lagging out the back the hedge looks black under the brightness of the sky. Feel like I’m in a tardis, secluded from the world in this vast tumbled down place but on the outside I’m still just small, me, a collection of atoms in a current form.
The heat brings out the dust in the day, everything is teeming. I need to do justice to this space, need to work.
The fly, (it was a fly,) tries valiantly against the glass, it’s fat furred body thudding in the light, tiny hairs quivering, protesting at his obstacles. I spot two other flies, quietly looking for answers. In my cell surrounded by prisoners. Sun hot on my shoulder, light framing the clouds.
The buzzing starts to annoy me. I need to do some work.

March 20th
(Showers)
I let the hail pierce my skin it’s white stoned ice cutting the surface. My feet buzz from the cold concrete, my hair plasters down. I try to feel, I seek sensation. I turn into the wind, it bites my face. it’s good. Everything is grey, grey falling, saturating me and the earth. The tiny birds carry themselves to food, hang upside down despite the swinging movement, I’m jealous of their instinct, I crave their animality, their hunt and song as I stand here, calling storms, losing myself in the pain x
The sun comes out, another gun fire takes an unseen rabbit, the ground shines white, water pulled up into steam and my shadow almost blue against the white washed bricks, glaring in the grateful heat. My hair drys out as I tap and in the distance, nearly out of view I see the wind farm for the first time, pure, uncomplicated, turning circles as the clouds pass overhead.

March 21st
The heating is off, my feet are cold, everything is silent, waiting.
I wonder where he is by now, how far along the long road to school, nearly my height, in my morning bare feet, with those eyes and your walk.

Stuff to do on his own walk, things to catch up with, to get down to. He has day two of exams and I don’t feel the weight like I did with SATS. I see him older like me, shifting into a new form, doing what we do now.

Feel strange I suppose, asleep somewhere in this version of being. I should make the most of the space, of this quiet. He’ll be up by the trees now, looking for Jack, his new good friend who knows us now. He has what he needs for today, and tomorrow isn’t relevant yet.

I feel like I’ve docked in a harbour, throbbing and grimy from the journey, covered in barnacles, a sea stained slime of weed. But the harbour is foreign, unfamiliar, though calling me into drop anchor.
I am here, I should pause, though it’s just a port, a resting place between the storms.
He’ll be putting his things in his locker, bubbling and buzzing, a world away from here in this cold room. I wait and view the scenery. Beneath me, the depth of ancient places, darkness slopping up my bows and out there,
hidden trenches crawling in things we can’t see, under the weight of this place.
My sea. Quiet waves, for now.

(and our explorer, out there, charging, steely eyes and cutlass. Doing it.)

x

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Can’t get moving today, have no momentum. I’m here with zero spin like the Higgs particle and I read about it hurling around in Switzerland, teasing the physists with it’s revealed truths. But it appears to still fit into the standard model, nothing new yet, nothing more exotic and it shows them we only understand 4% of our universe.

And I also continue to collide around in here, charging into things, smashing myself into memories, exploring this strange new world, our new civilisation, understanding only fragments of how we still exist.

And I make an attempt at tidying,
up in here, by the old stereo, your old record player from the museum of a life and through the smokey grey Bakelite it says ‘Thorens’ with a flourish, TD160B MK11, apparently. And the stylus has a small triangle on its tiny brushed steel finish. The counterweight sits still, round the back, the softly boxed ‘disc-cleaner’, a furry product of time. And in front of it an old beaten coaster, the image peeling up at the corners, the one with the dappled horse that I bought from the country park, way back in that May when the hayfever tablets worked well.
Our son’s redundant Playmobil lies down, redeployed as a statue, on it’s back fighting no fires, looking sideways to the things I can’t see.
The old cassette tapes in a triptych
underneath, wound slippy brown ribbon, imprinted with days. I need to play them some time soon but not yet. And I look down passed the Lost calendar bought for you before I watched it and the tuner, black crackling brute, that had begun to loose it’s growl, in those months before and the radio over the tape player with its satisfying click clunk of depressed buttons. And the memory of it’s red lights, (5 in from the left) in the time when it lived behind the settee arm, in the other home, in the other world.
And I study these elements carefully
to the background radiation of our son playing with friends, loud, up here and he needed to be careful not to bump it, with it’s delicate old mechanism, fragile but still working, handle it all with care.

And I remember the huge old speakers, the white monsters carved by your Dad and the stories of hoiking them down from the North and up the Southern stairs. They squatted in our bedroom until the move evicted them and they were sold and removed to somewhere else, somehow, in a time before eBay.
But the cupboards that sat in between them still sit, their place in the garage where they took root, in all the new plans of new homes.

And I draw in the dust remembering your music, the compared lists, the groans and distaste, the raised eyebrows and head shaking. Just remembered Go Moog! oh my god, how I laughed and how I wound you up about it and getting the ‘image’ right between the speakers. Hi-Fi, obviously, I really shouldn’t have said stereo…And I remember the jazz and the name choosing for our son and the track you wrote to me about, hundreds of years ago, before txts, without email, in a chat-free, app-free world, when we held a pen and used a stamp and we waited, waited to see what would happen. And I found the track again, somehow, in that week, despite my carnage and played it again on that day.

And I’m back in the old Orion with Meatloaf before the first meal, the creamed out trout and slapstick corn, the meal we never really lived down. And the endless journeys in the Sandbanks days, the naff tunes that came to have their meaning, the ones that always reoccurred and the concept albums from a 70’s teenage room. The disparaging looks at my collection, the what and the why and The Who and how we swapped on Crowded House and became Keane in the closing days of forest trips, in the car, by the lyrics we couldn’t keep up with. And I sourced out some Be bop Deluxe as a joke and moved you into Rufus Wainwright with that song that I haven’t played since.

I’m sat here now with all your vinyl boxed and inaccessible but the names and sounds are pouring and images spinning hard and fast. The Christmas dancing, the corporate meals, the waistcoats and velvet and the old car radio, up loud and personal, shaving off the angles on the roundabouts as we hurtle late at night.

And downstairs, almost camouflaged behind our first pot plant, (the one that survived the years and moves, its glossy veins mapping our growth,) sits your leaning tower of CDs. I rumbled through it in that week back then, stumbling to find what to play, wanting Tom Waits but not knowing where to start. So I replaced them as best I could, in your special order, not alphabetical, (of course not,) too simple. Placed them back in their unique genres, your categories of ‘taste’. Haven’t been near it really but it’s calling, from the old wood, it’s chipped lips, the thin plastic covers, dog eared gatefolds, a frozen picture of movement and verve.

And high up above me, shiny hidden blackness, a toast rack of 45’s, brittle skin and grooves, with Epic signposting, no doubt Sweet, smiling down at me.

I can hear them all, playing over layed, a turned down tumult of you and the Swing, just remembered the Swing and the joy of zoot suits in Malcolm X.
And it’s coming at me with the speed or firing particles, a need to hear some, to spin inside, to crank it out loud and blaring, like I used to, like you used to, when there was dance without restraint and we were younger, we were us, with our collection of collections and the sounds spun out of our old universe, lit by a distant sun.

And I accelerate faster to unknown speeds, pushing the boundaries of what I know, looking for answers
and forming new questions, in these places, in this soundtrack of our life.

Today in the music of our spheres.

xxx

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I wake. My life pours in and I remember, as sleep dribbles then pools out, forming a puddle around me. I lie in it as the morning soaks my skin, I’m still not quite awake as it seeps around me, slow and steady. Nothing rushes these days. It forms great lakes of reality (that word I’m supposed to use) though it’s never felt more irrelevant and the water of my memory gathers like the leak on my kitchen floor.

A few days ago my seemingly ageless machine found the process of time too strong and it whirred and rattled, steadfastly washing our final selection, gently braking at the edges, quietly easing out its contents, glossing over the old chipped floor.

And of course, obviously, it took it’s chance to release itself on the anniversary of the world bursting, the day of my morning horror.
My tumbled chaos of elements then and now and I mopped and squeezed and moved products around, jumbled up boxes of brightly coloured bits, varieties of soap, things that freshen, things that spray, squeaky little aerosols, honeyed unused dusters, super charged nuclear cleaners, random pretty dolly-mixtured pegs, left at the back with the spider carcass, from the days when I used to hang out. And a big box of half soaked cocaine, solid, sodden, clumped up memory of spring fresh families, clinging, smiling at the lush green meadow of their life.

So I busy myself looking productive, as helpful hands heave and strain and poke and tip, as the years of fluff and muck, gush and rumble through the snaking plastic over the threshold and out, a grey stream on our path.

And all the time I try not to let it show, that I’m running through that day in my head, that the immediacy of a wet floor can’t wash out the stains from then, the permanent patterns tattooed into my cortex, playing games around my puddles, coming at me through the dripping towels, the wrinkling fingertips, saturated with the images.

And I know it’s time to look at new machines and how can it matter at all? It’s only white goods, it’s only a noisy hulk in the corner, it’s only the wedding present bought for us by Mum and Dad, bought early when still engaged. When your bargain make do machine ceased to make do and the replacement fought with the water softener in a running battle that seemed to go on for months, (but probably didn’t), and the Hotpoint troop stood his ground, in his overalls, in our kitchen, against the frowns and disbelief of the Solent Water Treatment man. And it was all quite comical, badged tops, product loyalty, clashing points of view when all I wanted was clean knickers, at whatever the cost. And they agreed to differ, by-passes were by-passed and the problem solved with the smooth sleek purchase. And it was shiny and new, options and lights, buttons and panels and it gleamed at us with intelligent care and it worked and it washed and it hummed.

And it sat silently when we honeymooned, saving it’s power for the baby years, the dribbles and sick, the seven shades of stains, heaved and squelched in, in the night, in the dark, between your toes, when you tried to find clean bedding through heavy sleep filled eyes. And toddler fun behind the gate, the wobbly stairgate, caging off the temptation of buttons and sitting on the threadbare carpet next to him, warm full pull-ups, rattling at the bars, laughing ‘woo woo woo’ as it spun, as he learned, as we played, as neurones jumped gaps and he formed and he grew as it whirred.

And I leaned into it, taking my weight, supporting myself as I washed up for the first time, when I could finally get off the bed, when my back and legs tried to work, with my achievement of getting downstairs, loading up the pushchair with our wriggling mass of needs. And you came home to find me by the sink, semi distracted son beside me, aching but proud of wet hands and I was like a ‘proper person’ – almost.

And filling it with school uniform when dinosaur tops were too small, and crawling on the floor passed by it with the trains, in the daily building, the clipped construction of our world, when we’d explored the carriages while he slept before wrapping up the years ahead.

And it chuffed on and we chuffed on through changes and moves and momentum, under the soundtrack, the churning vibration of a place marking time, illustrating entropy. The evidence of life in the mess we create, the stains and creases, the smell of crumpled clothes, the chucked in t-shirts, emblazoned phrased and citied, the souvenir of places, the proof that we were here.

And it turns and heaves and cleans washes away the by products, the old emerged properties and we give it no thought, fill it up and switch it on and it thunders and it circles and it turns the wheel within it, while we dance and creak, twirling passed in life, in our clothes, invisible.

And that phrase has clung to me, through the years, from the first reading, to the last. When I tried it out in seminars before I really understood, to knowing it well now. And I hear it in everything, in my cycles that continue despite me and I hear it as I walk passed our machine, to turn the wheel, make complete revolutions and its wisdom is hard but true.

And I see you steamed up in wet shirts, the tradition pile, the occasional onslaught, while you watched something on the Mayans and I crept into the dark bedroom and tried to quietly but unsuccessfully free the hordes of hangers and bought them to you, jangling like a Victorian gaoler. A heavy torture of keys, clanking and spearing me as I walk and I unleash them to the settee in the familiar sauna of the lounge, in that world, in those places, in that turn of the wheel.

And I’ve been looking at shiny new things, comparing revs and ratings, gleaming factory fresh flashing lights and whistles, as they line up before me, an identity parade of features, all smiling and winking, promising their tricks, shouting their virtues in the confusion of online emporiums.
Can’t decide, can’t think. I’ll come back to it later. I have enough clean clothes for now, but the pile is reducing, steadily marking time. Tick tick tick…

And now, sometime later, more details clicked on, needs considered and decisions made, choices and options all dealt with. Added to basket, all done.
Now all I need to do is arrange to unplug the old one and wait for the new arrival. Our son will enjoy playing in the box and I’ll adapt to new buttons and lights, flashing and glinting at me from the corner, in that space, where that world used to be.

How hard can it be – anticipating a familiar process – after all, it’s just a washing machine…

x

P.s
Playback

I had to go back to the hill yesterday, retraced our steps up to school for a favour.
Wandered through it, swept back in time, through the bashed out undergrowth, matted soil and giants steps. Up to the old castle through my portal on the hill.

Hair blowing in front of me like it used to do. Battered by icy blasts, a strangeness, weird, like someone else’s life. And I feel like a wound down toy, something old, something losing it’s thread, like walking above, detached, through someone else’s body, with her hands that are icy red from blasts, in that bitter gloveless world.

The late day sun shafts across our old houses, Lego creations where someone else used to live but I’m way too early so I wait around the corner. Loitering with no intent, by the fence, looking out above the traffic, blustering in the scene. I prepare myself for whats to come, reducing my time in an old place, amongst new faces and old ones that pretend they don’t know me.

And a few minutes later an old familiar hand insisted we wait for his brother, by the class, not by the gate. And I retraced all the old places, the old rooms, the memories streaming out of the doors, hot and sweaty, whipped up with tales of the day. And past the door from that February, to park by the door from before and back out with a pretend face, swinging bags and chatting while our son was elsewhere, coming home his new way.

And I was lost in a re run, a fractured replay through the anomaly of my life.
And one smiled face, one at the bottom of the hill. The one I remembered, who took the time in the transition, who walked up to me with genuine care, while they all swept by, fascinated by something in the opposite direction. And she said she was sorry and stroked my cheek. And we crossed paths again and I remembered and I suspect she did too.

And I couldn’t get home quick enough, dump off stuff by the door and and it was all there, a loud blaring revision of the way it used to be. But I can’t dwell, can only feel and note and move.

Have to go back out tonight, in my new place, in my new way with the ghosts of who we were filling our home and my head, loud and insistent, a strange overwhelming of sepia rawness.

x

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Feb 6th

I’m trying to feel along this route, the cool silk of my screen, a comfort to fingertips, the swimming in my head the churning thoughts, the impossibility of now, the rise of my chest.

The bay window behind your head, on the right where the carpark peeped out, looking across with our son on his D.S in the days before this phone. And we talked about that trip and the quotes came from nowhere, like our first meal back then and it was what we did, us, in our little game.

and

the wood pidgeon sits, soft and golden high beyond me, napped feathers pushed backwards in the wind, late winter sun warming my side of the bark, a strange ancient light, a green gold sharpening the contrasts, the charcoal etched downstrokes, pushing hard into the landscape.
A sycamore spore shakes against my window, caught in an unseen thread, the sticky insistent parenting of a hidden spider weaving. Pushing out fine gloop to harness food, to feed her belly, fat and swollen, fierce nature driven need to survive, to suck on flies for nutrients till the babies take over her role. And in the web of now the sycamore flutters an absent dance, buffered by the eddies, pinned against the glass, trembling, going with it, with no resistance.

Beyond it, puffs of thinly stretched white, slow moving fluff over a summer blue sky and the wood pidgeon calls out, familiar rhythms breaking through my thoughts, sun’s gone in. I sense how cold it is really, in this dip, this hollow where my home sits, in the winter brittleness.
Down here amongst the leaves, the brown blown detritus of another year. Standing here, spun tight in memories, incapable of movement, caught in the stickiness of now, a cocoon of moments, an essential thread woven around me, tracing me back to then and now. Here and there, in one breath. Looking out, feeling, being, in this moment with awareness.

Feb 8th

I’m varying. Teetering between still nothingness and wide gashed freshness.
I want to walk, go back to my bench, but I don’t want to see anyone, don’t want the faces, the familiarity of that earlier part of the journey, but it’s pulling me.

I can’t get my head away from then, that walk, that morning, that etched in normalness, just a walk up to school with our son and I dropped him at the agreed spot and watched the sun come up over his left shoulder, gently framing his shiny black nylon coat. And I can see myself watching him as he faded down the path and I turn and crawl away, a slow walk back and I remember our years and our world and I feel the changes, the movement of time the undeniable shifting of life. And I hold it and note it down at home, while you worked and I had a day off and I wrote in the small decorated book I’d bought, a final birthday present on the day we went out for that meal and ate at ‘the geography teacher’s place’, you know the one.
And it’s mine, the image, the moment, but it belongs to someone else, to her, who I used to be, in the remaining days before and from this perspective I see it all, their roads, their steps, their momentum that brings us to now.

And school starts somewhere else today, the sun is behind him, his bag is heavier but he’s growing stronger to carry it. While I sit here watching the pidgeon watching me, watching and knowing and seeing it all inch towards us.

Now as then
This pain
This love
xxx

Feb 9th

Confused, feel I’m tiptoeing through my life, through the old world, creaked and stained with age. I see her, who I used to be, hurrying to school, parka and jobs, stuff going on and she seems so much younger somehow, younger than the physical product of time, an earlier age, lighter in essence, in knowing. And she rushes and picks up our son, and somehow she belongs to somewhere else, to a faded past place, to a time before the place I inhabit now and I recognise her, I know her well, her ways, her faults, her gifts. But she’s not me, not me now. There are similarities, reminiscent looks but we split in the fragments back then. I try to think what I’d say to her, how to shape my words. I feel like her older sister, a wisdom heavy with life and I look down to her through the years in our home, through the stillness of now, through the dust particles that move unseen like me. And I can’t reach her, not fully, can only brush fingertips past her, move close and around but I can’t get eye contact, can’t sit with her and tell her what’s ahead and if I could she wouldn’t feel it, couldn’t know until she had to know and she wouldn’t understand me, not really, in her younger loss less days.

It’s a strange place, home inside a home, a Russian doll of memories, watching us let it play out, our scenes and retakes, our mistakes and triumphs and all the players knowing the parts so well, incapable of any other role. And my home is stuffed with us all, waiting for our son to return, from his new friend’s house, a new friend in our new world, who knows our story, who’s family see us as we are now, who only know this me, the one I have become, leaning up the oven, tapping on my phone, listening to the heating, waiting.

Waiting.

As the old me gets on with her evening, normal routine, normal life as the clocks ticks down and away and she is unaware, unaware of herself as the younger women, the women I used to be, who I look at now through older eyes.

Feb 10th

I’m in a tiny space, microscopic, quantum sized, dense packed matter with the force of a black hole and in my quark which I inhabit, the space fills the universe, expands beyond knowledge and physical dimensions.

I am crushed in the vastness. A speck of dust with infinite proportions and this is where I sit, in my head, in this moment, a riot of image, a paradox of being, a singularity of feelings and I breathe and I exist and I am.

Feb 14th

The warm shape of sunlight creeps up the saucepan handle, it’s edge a deeper hue, washed out ochre on the long side. Tap drips. Speck of white on the rim of my glass. Reading the whiteness, my brain making sense of the light bouncing in on my retina. A distant constant buzz somewhere, heating? head? can’t tell, it’s high pitched and draws me in to focus on its note. A definite aeroplane elsewhere, it’s quiet, sun drops behind a cloud, boiler kicks into action, sun out again.

The light through the blinds has moved or is it just the world spinning, the handle is static, my elbow, cool on the working surface, the water, still, a full bowl, surface tension pushing at the edge. Reflected plant, dark green ovals coloured by the loud blue of the bowl. The plant that was bought for me in that week back then, that’s survived through my lack of watering, that’s rallied to the occasional turn, that converted light to this bent growth. It’s leggy now, needs care, needs re potting, needs nutrient rich soil, black and musty, oozing with goodness. For now it leans up the blind for support, it’s tiny pot illustrating the evidence of time. Tap drips. The stainless steel defies it’s name, patches and splots of entropy, showing up the dullness in this unforgiving light.
And by the windowsill, the broken glass waits for me to move it, the glass with the drink name on it, bought that last Christmas. I study it’s seared edge, rough to a point but not dangerous, the shiny thinness a mirrored line, glinting, hard and glossy, catching the sun where it broke. I see us unwrapping in our old familiar ways, running through our lines like we did when we didn’t know this place.

Tap drips. I replace the fragment, it scratches down the side of it’s remaining piece, the sun glares at me, burning hydrogen at a distance I can’t comprehend.
I shove my hair behind my ear,
It’s the day before tomorrow (again).

x

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Jan 29th (Waiting)

Woke in a different reality.
Sat for a while, wrapped in parka, watching the lights play with raindrops on the screen, moving in swathes of colour, speckled shoals sparkling across the day, an absent cast of diamonds.

I stare out through air, through glass, through the collected water. The headlights spraying towards us, the fractured shapes breaking into the morning, the blurring trees, encased from elements, called to go back outside.

Stuffed at the moment, don’t know whether to run or stay, to walk or hide. The light from my screen makes everything else darker around me, I tap in the glow but want greyscale. I have jobs that need doing. But I’m comfortably slumped, huddled on the settee, the spell check says ‘seethe’ but I don’t. It’s not that sort of feeling, it’s flatter, thinner, heavy grey not red.

How long am I staying here? Want to sleep, want to move, want to drink, want to stay, want to go, want to stop.
Need to write, need to read, need to move, need to drink but I’m warm and tired, wrapped in coat and tissues.

The clock still ticks pointlessly, the heating churns for no-one, the jobs wait, the trees broken vein the sky.
Winter calls me out there, I can’t be bothered.

I can’t be.

Still here.
x

Jan 25th (Cages)

It’s mine, the lack of time, the sense of disbelief, the thudding head, the ache under ribs, the slight pain in chest, the ball curled empty comfort under covers. The sense of pushing at my outside edge, the permanent running tape, the tension between consume and reduce, a sense of wanting to get sucked in fully, deeply, feel the metal box around me and a paradoxed comfort of slate bashing, that I can’t escape and wanting to feel the sides of it’s walls.

And then it flys out and up and I know what I need to do and this is what I have, all I have and it’s mine and I can shape it, run with it, do what I can, when I can, for as long as I can, until.

And I see it and I feel it and I see myself tapping through it, looking out of myself, the whole time, looking out of myself and I don’t want to lose that that sense of being in something, in me, in this shell and that’s how it is.

The spaces and the pieces, the gaps and matter, the madness that belongs to me, that’s mine, right here, right now and I almost step out of it for a fragment of time, then snap back hard and flat.

This tension at the soul, this bizarre sense of almost being here.

Snow hasn’t quite melted, cold earth showing through now, be easier to walk on for a while.

x

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It’s the first snow I think, don’t remember it last year, I know I took our son to town for the bright blue plastic but it came to nothing and I shoved it in the cupboard.

And the year before there must have been some but it’s very hazy, that winter just before, just before the last trip north, just before the meal with Nigel, just before the blues with Al. And now the blues are dark and not quite black, it’s early and school’s closed. I’ve told him to go back to sleep before another of those days of childhood, days of innocent whiteness, numbed red fingers, heavy crunched wool and a bite you don’t feel for hours because you’re out in it, laughing and the freeze tells you you’re alive. And I popped outside, not fully dressed, scrunched out my mark and stood in the pinpricking bitter. A dawn somewhere out there an expanse called to morning, not quite yet, beyond blue beyond white.

A black shape startles me, looking for food, a disappointed flash into the trees.
And I want to get out there, wrapped up in sealskin layers, huddled in arctic softness, a silky rub against the cracks of time, with tennis rackets on my feet and steaming huskies panting our way. And it takes me everywhere, to the last garden I remember, when you were tapping away upstairs, working from home while we constructed three snowmen. Out the back and we wrapped them warmly, one for each and I have the photo somewhere, our son on the edge and proud, an expression of an older face to come though we still had a year but didn’t know.
And our snow, squealing up the Jungfrau when my hiking boots were stiff and I beamed at the top of the world and we were new and cold and the air made us dizzy.
An under it I’m in Svalbard on a quest I’ve just begun, tapping my compass and watching the twitch, pointing a route to the lights. And I drift back to now, conscious of my elbow as it leans on a book, that book and the blue has faded grey. There should be Alps out there somewhere but this changing light brushes up a hint of green, a weak shade undercover and down the lane the little angled rooves shelter one small dot of orange, a tiny slit of warmth shining, someone else looking out.

It’s strangely familiar odd, dusty iced specks, a distant whiteout but no blizzard, not yet.
Think I’ll finish this in the garden, force my feet into fur, the pond will hold a mirror out there, in the quiet mist of dusted fields, the charcoal etch of trees, the endless sheet of sky and mountains beyond it that I can’t quite see.

Looking out through the frozen water to the aching backs of snowboulders caked in slimed leaves and twigs that we shaved sides off to shove through the gate and the early morning rushing when I got him up before the alarm, to cocoon ourselves out there, for a quick grab and roll, the wet gloves before school and you saw us from the window in the days of the old world when the snow blanked out a different place and I usually wore red, but not now.

7.59a.m – in it, forgot this noise, the soft burning pittering on my hood, the fired up hands, nose and eyes run in the cold soft fall of memory.

The first snow – I don’t know where I am.
X

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Stood here feeling the ache in my legs, the pressure of the floor under my boots, the sun increasing heat through the glass, warming up my neck, see the shadow I cast on the bed, my shape distorted, stretching out to the other side of the room near the wardrobe barricaded with time. Feel the coldness of my hand as I rub my cheek, a sense of looking out from within, of pushing at my edges, of being contained in something, like a fine wine, fermented over time, in rich old kegs, oak warmed flavours roasting the berries, rolling the fruits till they burst and pop from their shells, bleeding goodness into the black stained crimson.

And I’m bottled, held, contained for now, waiting to be poured and consumed, tipped into another place drenching the throat I don’t know and becoming part of a greater thirst. Moving and changing from bud to grape to bottle to mouth and I’m here in the sunlight, in my mass, in the photons, just waiting to be drunk.

Deep, warm, contained.
For a moment,
before the rush.

Ps I know why I wrote this today x

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