Archives for posts with tag: blackbird

 

 

June 18th 2017

I prepared his lunchbox for the last of the school days, the penultimate exam, the final full day and I secured the sandwich in the tired out plastic box. And as I did, I recounted the changing faces of the vessels over the years. The turquoise Thomas box bought at a day out with a friend when the steam made our eyes run and we chuffed down the rails and after the Reception class came Spider-Man in primary coloured nylon as he learned how to write. Year 2 was Lazy Town, a soft cover which caught the crumbs before a Year 3 army camo box with a matching water bottle. Year 4 saw us chugging up the hill with Toy Story, with Buzz at his side, falling with style and it was this lunch bag which I stuffed with cold fish fingers when we rushed back to the relatives room, to sit and wait, to watch the walls close in around us in Year 5. And afterwards his Sponge-Bob garish lemon shape turned up, it grinned at us for the rest of the year when our muscles forgot how to smile and into the final Primary walks with a tin box ordered from Amazon, flown over from the USA with Star Trek on its side.

Then Secondary came without the merchandised logos, without the beaming smiles and we settled on the lime green nylon that supported him through the days, right up until this final year when the blue-black lunch bag was the way. I’ve just turned it inside out now, given it a symbolic good clean, old crumbs and straws tumble into our sink, the residue of things past and as it dries out I make one last sandwich and recall.

I remember dropping him in the Reception class and leaving him kneeling on the floor with things to piece together, a new track, a new map to construct and I walked away. I looked back, his hair was lighter then, his head bent down busy, engrossed as I left and I walked as the trees blurred in my path.
And now I iron the penultimate shirt, aware of the years and minutes. Feeling the hours that bought us to here.

June 19th 2017

Next door’s scaffolding should come down soon. It watches over me, grey struts at odds with the soft spikes of my bamboo, with spears that have grown over time. A bluebottle dithers, disoriented but stays outside and the garden is poised in the sunlight. It will be warm today, the soil where the roots and weeds used to be, heats up, beaks poke, legs crawl and I can see my garden to come, when the work has been finished. How like a meadow it will look with lupins with salvia and an area to walk, with places to sit and watch but for now it is waiting. We are in the lull. The old has been ripped away, bagged up and hauled onto their van but when they return, when the fence becomes solid, when the trellising goes up, then the grass seed will come, then the mulch and flower food. How dark the compost will be, rich with nutrients, particles to bind to roots, to wrap around them and hold as they grow.
And the shoots will come, sap bright, saturated with a need to pull to the sun and they will flower. There in our garden when the pond is complete, when the water flows without restriction and the stones bring balance, bring clarity.There in our garden colours will grow, earth will sustain and rain drench us all.

A magpie clattered down the roof of the summerhouse and perched on the edge. How strong the contrast in his feathers, how they pushed out, bold in black, in white, through my green and away. He paused before flight regaining himself, judging his next move. Like the old man I see on our lanes most days, with his cap and zimmer frame, out every day despite the weather, to make his journey to the shops and back again and he keeps going, keeps pulsing despite his obstacles.
And the old man on my summerhouse surveyed his land then flew, beat wings into the day with grace and power.

And I am waiting, it’s not long now. Our son head down again today.

June 21st 2017

The shadows stroke the trees, like a hand across a head, like a soothing touch against the day and pupils wander through the gates – the young ones with rucksacks almost too big for their small shoulders, the older ones, term weary weighted down by tests and work and then our son’s year – the veterans with end of school hair in their eyes, with rag-taggled uniforms  hanging on to the last. And they have the air of resignation after the build up, after the heft of expectation, they are almost there, almost done and now it’s a process to complete, a final hoop to jump through. And there goes our boy through the gates we used to know, for one more time, one last moment to follow their rules, in their system before the giddiness of the open door.

And as he sits at the desk, pen poised, waiting for the words ‘it’s 9:09, you may begin,’ I sit at my pc and pause. Outside in the park behind our house I hear the workmen’s radio and the distant throb of machines. The play-ground is being renovated and as the cement whirrs in the growing heat, they dig and prepare. There used to be bouncy tarmac out there, to soften the fall and in the places where I brushed stones from his knee, where I kissed hot skin better when I could, is a pile of silt now and the space where the climbing frame stood.

And in our home and garden as the curtain billows at the open door, I see flickers of our boy, of his countless faces, turning and changing, of his voice peeling out, giggling higher than it is now and he fills the space around me, he saturates our garden with all the children he used to be. There, as the light moves across my new bird feeder I see him running towards us shouting ‘charge!’ I see his pristine primary sweatshirt and, right now I see his broader shoulders as he marches off with all his mates.

its quiet, apart from the tweep of fledglings, apart from the flutter of wings and under the hum of machinery, I anticipate his end of school face at the door.

For our son – beyond proud.

xxx


In the quiet morning, when the day had not yet decided if it would be warm or if it would rain, I watched his legs. From the window I could see them as they walked the path to school, as they were coated in spring leaves, dappled on his black trousers and then the branches came and covered him and took him into the tree.

A moment later, higher up and further along the path, a flash of black in the gaps and then he turned right, to our subway, to the one I painted years ago when brush strokes, not words were my way. And it will echo to his feet now and then he turns left. I feel his journey though I cannot see it, the hill he has to climb and now the brush of traffic. The cars full of aftershave, the makeup tweaked in rear view mirrors and everyone has motion, needs, relentless nature turning and by the railings with his mates, with friends, he’ll start on the cut through road.

I know these roads but never walk them with him, only sometimes on the way to a fayre, but these are his streets, the dips in the pavement and the old school we used to know. And as he passes it now, we are there years back, younger, smaller with sparklers in our hands and friends who don’t live near now, whose hands have turned round clock faces like ours, who’s changes have carried them away in time and we all hang in the air, like a scent of jasmine or lavender, like the not quite forgotten lyrics of a song.

And at the junction near the main road the cars pick up steam, they knit and weave between each other, giving way or scowling and in the far off greens behind him, the rolling downs fade up through lilac and grey, under flat bottomed clouds, cropped just for him today and a sky we used to know.

And at the lights again in the push and shove of morning ready, for the almost starting day, he will be there, bag getting lighter as last lessons come and go, his lunchbox lid has spilt across the middle, a diagonal tear in red plastic and it hangs on. Each day the split grows more but it will make it, the lid he’s held for years is almost at its end, like his own phase. And it’s tucked away in his lunch bag, next to his exam pencil case which he will need today.

And through the gates now, I imagine, with the heartbeat slightly raised, there, passed the drama rooms he use to visit on Saturday mornings when we sat in the coffee shop downstairs.

The blossom is coming out on the tree outside my window, like every year, like years ago on the early walks to primary with hot hands and book bags and the spelling hill to the roundabout – and now.

Now even his blazer is getting small and I watch the leaves on the tree outside my window, so still today, so quiet as though it’s holding its breath, as though it’s wishing him well and in every leaf at a cellular level it buzzes, particles whirr like his neurones and in every atom I see the image of him growing and forging out through time.

Our son, preparing, and today every leaf and every insect wing, every photon of light knows his name.

xxx

 

My friend’s husband retired last year. She talked about it the last time we met and how she felt it would be strange, how odd to have him there all day, every day, getting under her feet and tripping up the routine that she’d made her own over years. I listened. He was always into trains and, without doubt, would take the time to wander down to the stations, to stand around and watch and note the numbers. He would tinker and mess about and finding himself with the hours, would reflect on his years, would adjust to a new way of life. And my friend would make adjustments too. Arguments would come and go, redrawing boundaries and negotiating space in the way you do when you spend your life with someone. I’ve been thinking about her recently, wondering about her world and how they relate now as their children grow up and they face old age together.

And when my parents retired I remembered a lounge full of boxes, of china birds and paperweights, of cards and the smell of orchids and as I type, a blackbird darts in front of my window, wings stretched wide so that I can see each feather and the sky is so heavy today, solid, thick grey as if it’s holding in so much and there is stillness.

Our son left for school an hour ago, knee deep in revision, challenge all around and I think of your mother pulsing out new life back then, creating lungs that filled with air, that bought me to here, that bought our son to the edge of the man he is now and I wonder.

I wonder about our other world, one where you left this morning, where we teased you about the day. And you’d feel strange, such a mix of emotions. All the years of dealing with their blue sky thinking and politics in their air conditioned rooms. And the names and faces that came and went like Colin with his manicured nails, easing you out to your next job and suave Bob Clarke, grateful for your endless knowledge. We used to drive near the building back then and you pointed it out as we drove past. And the ship builders that came before and the East of the County who came after that.

You had two cars in those days, a company one you didn’t use and then we met. I know where the card is that I sent you, when I still lived at home, your interview on the horizon and how the new job formed our world, the commuting and my trains trips down.  I wore a Santa hat and waved to the directors and their Christmas parties came and went, corporate games in a different town. And the work that came later, near to home and our new son with the hours, the frowning as they tightened budgets, the gravitas, the stress and the respect.  It feels like a favourite book now, a story covered in dust, on your bookshelf, tucked away though I know it’s all still there.

And how strange it would be to wave you off on this day to know the relief to come, the stories and gifts, bottles of wine and then what next? And we’d laugh and make plans like we used to do and after you’d caught up on sleep and reading you would drift in to charity work. I’d be a teaching assistant by now and our son would be marching to school (as he does,) but in a different world, with balloons on the door and alternative potential in our minds.

I wonder how my friend is getting on in her new world, when the routines laid in stone came to a stop. And we would have been similar I imagine, rearranging our priorities to fit our changing needs. I’d look forward to tea and a meal in the oven when I’d come home, the only one at work and you’d have humoured me…for a while.

But I’m not a teaching assistant and our son prepares for GCSEs in a parallel world where we keep on keeping on. And while I type and listen to the silence of the house, I see us all in that other Eden,  flat bottomed clouds, cropped to fit our view, nettles you could roll in, under our rainless painless sky.

There in another universe, with a different road ahead. There in your office, with your colleagues joking, they slapped you on the shoulder, they shook by the hand – in the other land, today, where you retired.

xxx

 

 

 

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

It’s odd, there’s almost an irrelevance about this

Time

Months

Weeks

Days

Hours

Minutes

Seconds

Nano seconds

A year

What does that mean? Has anything changed? Am I further away from that moment at all? It’s just a process, it’s what we do – marking ageing. And whilst crushed under the inescapable re run there’s a part of me outside of it, of understanding I’m intrinsically woven into that moment, it’s as much a part of me now, then, and always, like my consciousness .

There’s no separation between me and then it simply is, it’s there next to me, on my shoulder, just happened and happened in another millennia. We exist in a permanence, an endless luminous being in itself, something that travels with me as I age.

As I untie towards 365 days and the wounds are hacked into, cleaved open, left gaping and gutted, screaming, searing white pain tearing out into the universe and yet underneath it all lies a deeper truth. An unknowable knowledge. No separation from then. It hurts me, it drives me, it is me.

Time is only a human construct

I am then

I am now

Approaching a year

So?

Epilogue

Tuesday

I see the telegraph poles for the first time through the mist. Turned round to go, it’s too muddy for the feelings. Double backed and from this angle it looks like a shear drop, although I know there’s trampled summer down there. It looks appetising, calling. One displaced seagull and a squelching suede grey dog. Going towards the edge as the temperature dips again, not sure what’s over there,

in an aching English mist yearning for the Colorado river.

Pidgeons still there on a lower branch etched into the morning. Still watching me, biding his time. Just a ball of black from this angle, then flaps heavily fluted as they all pass over me. I look for his Mum at the bus stop and she’s there wrapped up in brown, powdered in the scent of setting lotion. And the chug throb takes her away as the snow starts to fall. A distant hammering over feintly shined bricks.

I can’t walk much slower. But I have to meet it.

Wednesday

Ground like cardboard, frozen paw prints, iced gusts slow my progress. I don’t want to be here. Lost seagulls wander skirting the air looking for a reason. Mud dried out dry ski slope, minus something or other. Nose and eyes running. Easier to walk but bitterly I’m not here. Can’t do this.

This coldness, this love, this pain

Time for the descent

Thursday

Bottom of field, fence ripped out replaced with steel bars from nowhere. Alien, out of place, a 6 foot letter N. Things hop by me mirroring my movements. Footsteps echoing on hollow ground, waiting to see who comes by. And here are my favourites waiting for the troops. Heavy blue frayed lines going over the top. The fields fueled with beaten gold, looks like it should be warmer. A jigsawed letter from when we used to use stamps and the sky looks like June somehow.

And there’s one twig left, arms outstretched under their calling caws

Bending in the breeze

cropped to fit my view

It’s the day before tomorrow

x

Today

Raven

Your cloak over food

bird prints smashed under deep tread

Hunger waits for thaw

One legged black bird

carried on avoiding crust

Twenty three reasons