Archives for posts with tag: his mum

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

 

 

 

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They’re back again with their grey whiteness, the bright helmets, the giant gnawing hidden teeth, blasting wood. They bend and feed unseen pieces into jaws, wrapped in protective layers, risk assessed and safe while their vile beasts fill their tummies, metal splattering spitting, whirring churning, droning destroying, buzzing burring, cackling into sawdust.  And they work in pairs, in unison and they are soulless relentless merciless, sent from the Council to let in more light but they stalk around looking for the orange spots, the cross on their door, to take out the life. 

And the engine stops, the silence loud, the birds long gone, for now and they prowl around.  An old unsteady man, new to my view, shuffles against the weather, uneven unhelpful right foot, swinging briefly bought bits in his orange plastic, his thick anorak inflating, filling him out against the day as he weaves through their carnage.

And I wait to see what’s next.
Me and the crow look out on them.
A nervous surveillance, his shiny black dulled in December skies, waddling, hands behind his back.
And yesterday I warned our son that his path would be blocked by the visitors and as he changed route at the last moment he complained that they’d taken his favourite tree, one out of sight, on his game on the way, that hung invitingly, to duck under and I wanted to hold him when he walked by the logs that remained.
And this morning they stealth their route along behind us, wreaking change near the playground of earlier times when he clambered carefully and I watched you from the window making something secret on the bench. Where you sat on guard occasionally, half reading half watching, in the closing of the old life when I started to loosen the strings.

And from my side window I see raw sap seeping wood, a shocked pale circle against the dark day, it’s thick hour rich coat greened with life and time, lying torn while their chainsaws sever limbs and I’m drawn to watch though it hurts and I wonder how long before they get to our gate.

I have to go out later, it may help to leave them to it. We checked out their route months back when the orange paint first came and I know the spaces they’re planning and as they drill a little deeper I move away to the front of the house.
And your Mum loved trees so much, tucked away in her little back yard with one plant, you know the one and the jokes we made and she always lifted on the moors in the weather swept openness while the moments ticked into memories and photos. And she visited once here, as her transition picked up pace and I see her in the garden, pink jumper, stick and our son leaning, grinning on his 6 year old truck and the life in the trees hummed around us. Rich chaos filled universes, worlds supporting worlds, layers of matter, mattering to those that paused or lived there and my hours listening through the old windows, orchestras rustling through our noisy atumum days.  And we hesitated on double glazing as it would drown out the calming stirring and they were our trees, my trees, her trees, where trees were backgrounding our place. 

And I feel the atoms spinning in the microscopic legs that crawl their needled stickiness, darting away before nail hard beaks jab into their juicy body, a pop bite burst to nothing, a speck of food or a wriggle of warm jelly into the waiting throats and a clatter of feathers through leaves, in between and up and out, away for the next moment, soaring catching the shape of the wind, carried, spying over the garden with black bead shinyness, the beating muscles connecting, webbing out between us all, making the links in the force. 

I can’t look now. 
The throbbing has started again. A mass displacement, tearing through the morning, a landscape of unseen refugees, bagless homeless  disorientated by imposed change. Bewildered and dazed, some still breathing, edging on in the stark new world.

I’m going out, I can’t listen anymore, can’t feel this familiarity, the anticipation of loss, their Council driven metaphors, the gapping spaces, rich with history, relocating energies around the hacking chainsawed misery.
The Council leaflet tells us it’s been carefully considered, it will aid the trees that are left, they will grow and spread out differently, they will stretch up stronger. Changed through the ripping, but ultimately bringing growth.

I don’t see it at the moment.
I’m aware of dates, obviously they would have to come now, of course.
I’m aware of the sun shining out, winter cold but energising, webs of sawdust dancing in it’s light.
Wood warming up in the photons.

I’m going to have one more look.

I’m tired of endings.
X

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November 30th 2012

Tomorrow is apparently December. Today it smells like it,
it smells like Christmas and the roads are full of petrol fumes from earlier engines and the air bites you if you’re out there, easing the lock against the ice with the cold seat up your back, the satisfying connection as it turns over into life. And I used to prepare it for you, always up first, then our son, and while you crawled to the bathroom for another day of their politics and nonsense, I rush outside, in-between breakfast and turn the key. And when you come downstairs to put your briefcase in the back, it’s half ready, steaming up the drive and the morning thawed in the winter sun and we went about our life.
And though I’m very much here with my pillow up my back, strong black reaching the places it needs to, the weather and rhythm of the year draws me away through my wormhole to stuffing the Rover with parcels and weaving up behind tail lights to Birmingham for early Christmasses and you always tried to finish early and that song always played and we got there late to the faces and warmth at the door, with the necessary jokes, the normality of driving home. And the Boxing day onslaught North to the things we wanted and the things we had to deal with, the anticipation, the issues, the doilies, the tall freezer not quite hidden behind the folding screen, the conservatory that was really a lean-to, so he didn’t have to get planning permission, and the storage heater off to my right. And she always winked at me when the conversation went it’s usual way and the meat was beautifully sliced and he always asked how your Mum was doing.
And back to the Travel Lodge enjoying the sickness that I kept to myself for a while and I only had toast that morning and sparkled and tingled on the inside, potential lit up like the decorated trees around me. And back up to Pendle, stark, cold and perfect, weaving up the inclines to find our spot, and we huddled as you took us in your old proper camera that’s under the bed as I tap this, and froze us into a favourite photo, the two small mothers, (your rock before she shifted and me at the point of transition though we didn’t know it then). And we smiled towards you in the beautiful bleakness, a timeline of love, a moment.
And I’m in it now before we head South.
For train filled toddlers who rustled in boxes with the paper strewn floor and we laughed at his sweetness when the carriages kept coming, while I was too organised and you preferred the chaos.
And my memories are scrunched up around me, ripped and messed with half stuck bows, ribbons hanging off. And they’re slippy under bare morning feet with the warm house smelling of cooking, sausage rolls at breakfast time, just because you could, while I sort through the images
coming fast and jangling, a loud insistent jingling of our hours.

And now my coffee’s gone cold and the heating’s gone off and I consider coming back to the present, with the calling of the day ahead, the distant sleigh bells of planning.

The tentative being of now.

The last of November frost is melting and taking my time travel up in the warming wavelengths.

The sun burns white into the back right window highlighting the moisture in it’s brightness, eight years to the day it rolled up outside our old home, after Mike picked up the Rover, I think. Then I remember us sat in the show room, and some issue over insurance, our son feeling sick while you sorted it.
And our cars changed shape today, the ruby lowness filled with balloons that we tin-canned away in, that I creased myself into in labour, that took our newness around the country, Christmas packed with babies by the nearly there lights of Newton Abbot. And it had done it’s job and morphed into your new choice that continued the journeys, took us to other places, thank-yous with high zipped up jumpers, warm, oil swished turkeys on the front seat, steaming up the windows and the endless moments frozen, love etched inside.

It’s cold today
It’s nearly December
I’m surrounded by everything

We are held.

X

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1st September

12 years on from when I was due to give birth he unpacks the plastic bags and crunchy cellophane, clambers into the new clothes and shrinks and grows at the bottom of the stairs. Everything has room for change and I manage the feelings until the look is completed, as he sits on the bottom step and shove stomps his foot into new leather, just like you used to. He sits bundled up wearing rucksack as we test ourselves out, tiptoe through some honesty and hug in a crumpled sharp creased moment until he says he’s hungry.
I need to iron in the words like I did the first time, back in the old house in the old world in a pain that seems quite simple now.
Right now I just want to play and bake and not think ahead and we’d all have our chat together reminding him what’s important but now I do both parts. I’ll get the ironing board out in a while, he’s bought down a collection of Bionicles, I need to sit on the floor and find us in the battered box.

8.15, 4th September

He left slightly early wrapped and ready and everything said, with our special trick that only we know about, prepared and firmly in place. And he bundled off looking left and right and I snatched one last photo as he strode off on his path. I stood my post at the bedside where you put your shoes on but it was his own shiny black that reflected our world today.
And while they trudge in unison, nattering with excitement and nerves, prepared and unprepared for the road ahead, I look out of our window at the quiet dark path. He didn’t pause today, much too smart for the tree swing. I can see an early autumn flower from here or maybe it’s leaves shifting colour. I’ll have to walk down there and check. Everything looks heavy, milky grey sky, looks like rain but it’s not happening.

Probably halfway now, I wonder if he told them the joke? The one he rehearsed last night while we chatted and I tried to sneak in a few extra bits of bolstering for today. We’ve done enough, both of us, somehow. It’s all there, the groundwork, the understanding, the careful words chosen, the words left unsaid but felt at the deepest level.
If I stay here for a while I might see the primary dribs and drabs of faces that I knew. Such a loud stillness, a contrast to my old hurried pattern, my old shapes, an energy of movement.
Leaving now, I’ll carry the bottle and panniered p.e kits when necessary. September was always for reflection, a change of pace, a re-grouping. Marking time and feeling the momentum and that odd combination of familiarity and apprehension, everything the same but different. Same colours different sizes, sharpened pencils, new lunchbox, crumb free corners for a while. Catching up with old faces and noting the reinvention, the fresh haircuts and glossy dyed strands of new look teachers.

He’ll be there soon. I miss the change in energy, the stretched elastic at classroom room door, the last chance words, the look. The turning away and walk back, noting more in the silence or the footsteps of friends whisking me to somewhere else. I won’t see them today, any of them or that life. That’s not my world now.
The elastic is stronger, deeper, wider and is at full stretch as he will be amongst a swarm of controlled chaos feeling everything with enough inside to make it so.

I feel strange, odd, like I’ve forgotten something, or I should be somewhere else. I’m quietly calm and then a friend texts. My rock, who made the transition through the worlds with me. And she remembers me today and she imagines where I am. I push salt water around my face and reach for the box again.
I’ve moved to his room now where I perched on the edge of the bed on that sharp flurescent morning. When he got up quickly and sat on the stairs while the winter air chilled my pale unwashed face. And now I’m here with the collection, the pieces of a childhood and My First Bunny whose been with us since he was three months old. He looks how I feel, unravelled by hours and love battered, nap scrubbed up the wrong way, pink threaded nose rubbed brown with time. Smart white collar, frayed and rough, grey and bent. A tear drips down my nose and bounces of the back off his head. I push it into plush and feel the softeness that remains. There’s a tiny hole somewhere in the ear but I can’t find it now, the back of the ears are a finer fabric, gentle velvety, a smooth chocolate to the touch. I remember when we first opened it, bought by Carol and Gary, they moved to Wales didn’t they? she knitted me a beautiful white shawl and came round when your Mum was here, and our son was loud and pink and smelly and I couldn’t stand up. And in the Christmas video, my voice, happy and tired, laughing as he grabbed it the wrong way up and shoved it’s foot in his mouth. And the label. Labels always held such fascination and I study it now, easing me round the dial of the clock.

He’ll know his tutor group by now as I hear our years and hours playing out over the pain and it’s like a well loved film, quoting it back to front, upside down. Freeze framed loops of a life lived elsewhere, that runs in my head all the time. The noise, the colours, the laughter, the words of an earlier space while I’m stuck at the moment, pressing replay in the toy cupboard of my mind. It all seems so raw like a time travel to back there. I’ve popped out of a rabbit hole and landed in that life and I can observe and feel it but I can’t interact, I can’t make any changes, I can only watch and be.

I’m coming back into the present, a puzzle ball rattles behind me, a horse lies sideways across the bonnet of a car, spy equipment discarded on the carpet, espionage dealt with for now. And all around, surrounded by Lego, favourite then and now, his pedanticness, his attention to detail,
his ability to built, to construct, to make something beautiful from a box of bits. Something fit for purpose, clever, intricate, doing the job it was designed for.

Our son, always a builder, always a plan. Building again right now, just out of sight, just out of earshot, with all the love and the things that we gave him. One brick at a time, solid foundations, a new structure that we can’t see yet.

Constructing in new colours.

He pulls down his top with a sharp tug, we know why.

Back at the front of the house the sun is doing it’s best, it catches the edge of a back windscreen. A sharp line of white breaks through the dust.

I put the toys down.
I’m tired now, need a hot drink.
X

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11/8
Stuck my head out in the blackness after midnight. Wicked, biting wind cut through, my hair whipped and danced around my head, a few lights decorated the distance. I need to sleep, being pulled and drawn into somewhere long and dark, new and romantic, a sharp, strong, vodka kicked cocktail of emotions. Going to bed too late – but don’t care, this is hard but better than the settee.

11/8 St Petersburg
Well Toto I guess were not in Kansas anymore.

Tired. But up and ready in Russia.

Sun tries stubbornly against the slatey, chunky, thin, angular horizon.
While they sleep in English darkness I’m looking out on a country shaped by oppression, carved by change, limping with uneasiness, clumsy, proud of it roots but awkward in it’s reinvention. No wonder I feel at home.

Bitterly out on the steely Neva, under the Bridge of Brides where tradition throws wishes into it, moving swiftly past palaces and fortress, sitting on top of boat. Interrupted sky, getting colder, eaten by grey bleakness, harsh and frozen.
Along Peter’s Great river to the widest part and into arms of the Aurora Dawn hearing her first shot, thinking of our own overthrowing.

My own arms turn to ice, still holding the effects from the Cathedral. Was unprepared for the images inside the Church of the Spilled Blood and how in a beat I was taken back to the Cistine Chapel and the smell and hush in the colours. And the tension between trying to be there and see it beyond the crowds and not to consume it like everyone else. How can you take your own moments while grabbling on to our sons hand amongst the shoulder shove of a greedy band of strangers? And trying to keep sight of the guide and what number on a stick are we looking for? And you were somewhere out there in the loud quiet, in the hot clamouring fug, mind the steps, where are the steps, hold on, hold my hand.
And not far from two years later I stand looking up in a different space-time at a different ceiling, lost in the colours, in the moment, encrusted in the pain, frozen into the delicate detail reaching out to me through the light.

Subdued buildings frame our coldness, soft monochrome symmetry as we catch the stories. Waiting for the Prince of the purple sails, sleeping out amongst the trees until her ship comes in. And he arrives knowing a Princess’ wish, dying his sails to meet her needs. So purple becomes symbolic of hope and I buy a purple scarf for their folklore and my needs.

In the evening we march back through immigration, passed the impenetrable soulless sheet steel of Welcome. Look into the neck twisting mirror, avoid eye contact, wasted smile, stamp and go.
Sit with hope in the theatre and discuss the patterns on the heavy gilt dripping curtains. Our son sees banana gold waves as we look at the columns of smiles. After our chiselled out granite morning, the contrast of sound and colour, a party of fanciful fabrics lands with a comforting shock. The frivolous costumed energy spun its stark revolt against the earlier cruel greyness and we enjoyed what we could in our plush pockets, a world away from anyone. Seemed displaced somehow and out of time, a teasing humour, joyous fun bursting out, unexpected, dancing freely in the way I used to feel.

And back through the night, spots of neon pierce the gloom, wrapped in an enchantment from the evenings culture. The energy, exuberance, so alien to my life, so vibrant, drenching me in a tradition and fairytale.

12/8
Today in the Peter and Paul Fortress, looking up again, away from people. The ceiling, gaudy gold dripped splendor gives me neck ache while I cannot deal with the caskets and the rush-crowd-click of people photographing marble. I can’t deal with the size and the shape and the words and the imagery and although they’re all long gone Emperors of a Romanov resting place, I shuffle past and look up and beyond. I feel disgust as they clammer to consume moments of history. And outside our guide mumbles on in his gruff appealing slightly indecipherable sintax about Anastasia and if they find her there’ll be another funeral. And I close myself off and away and want to escape but I can’t.
Managed agony of the traditional choral Russian choir in a small white hush with nails dug deep into fingertips, to hold on tight through the velvet harmonies. Objectively so beautiful but I had to lock the feelings in layers of decorated wood because if I started… well, you know.

Somehow its too much like Pisa. The cobbles are hard to walk on, hard to see, they take me back to our last holiday and rushing round market stalls before finding you standing, waiting and my bartering for an umbrella that hasn’t seen the light of day yet because it reminds me of back then and the time just before.

And inside to prison confinement, a different suffering, the wire bed, stone floored isolation and a gnawing presence of my own hard cell.
The struggle back today, intermittent successes as we follow the polyester hand holders, sweet but agonising. Walking behind them, magnetic hands, dressed the same, strolling in a land I thought I’d know.

We leave soon heading for Helsinki. I feel confused and restless. Grey, low skies with a beautiful cold symmetry.
The threatening cloud frames gold leaf, a softened shape splintering the skyline. I’m muddled, tired and teary, feeling everything and nothing in one breath. Remembering too much, thinking too loud. Swamped with the days experiences, encrusted with anniversaries and vividly coloured moments that stay inlaid, despite time. The light breaks through, lighting up the old part of the docks, flicking a strange glow on the rough Brezhnev breeze block buildings and the huge hotels.
I can’t think anymore.

The ship stirs up silt, the gulls are busy. My predictive text tells me I’m a King away from anywhere but I don’t feel it. My land comes with me wherever I go, it’s in everything. There’s no escaping this rule, The revolt is always against myself, it’s a tireless cyclical coup.
The water settles to ripples, the breeze twirls and plays, I stare into the distance. We are moving away, we are moving towards our next place taking this with me. It’s ok.
Rebuilding.

I feel calmer now we’ve shifted west. The frosted glass laps and breaks alongside, sun dipping as we glide. A stillness that belies it’s depth. I sit out, feet up with merlot-my own spilled blood, wrapped in my Estonian shawl, warm, cool, tapping on screen. Our son unimpressed by the line of small vessels, he’s in a different place.

Stick with it. Be.

13/8 Helsinki, Finland
Our day, a good day on balance. Both of us laughing and shrieking as we bounced and battered over the snow, following leather tethered huskies. Despite the benefits to my chiropractor it hurtled us through a new experience, slipping us closer, lapping it up in our ice sculpted memory. And after the slapstick snowsuit removal we blinked back out of the dome into the bright Helsinki coach park, our sixty seated sleighs groaning under the weight of Finnish gifts.
After our day of contrasts -5 to 22, I listen to where I am but go back three years and the call from your Dad. We go upstairs to tell you and you just say was that the hospital on the phone and you know and we give you some time alone. And now I’m here and the thick unyielding fog is back and although the sun is on my feet and the rush in my ears, none of this is real.
I am not here, this did not happen x

14/8
Lying here waiting for the motivation to get up looking at the date and steaming, churning slowly towards tomorrow. It’s daylight out there, from the quiet soft patterns on the ceiling I expect a cloudy, thick wash when I push open the heavy striped curtains. Still back in yesterday and thinking of my time with your Mum and the encroaching fog. And that’s all I feel now. A jellied, gloopy greyness, swirling, lumping, sticking to me changing my outline, slowing me though not enough to stop. I feel her on my arm in the first of the homes. That was August too and the little house we rented opposite the train station which confused and distressed her, before the journey back over Pendle and I sat in the back and stroked her hand. And you burst through the fog now like a lost ship, harrowing, calling it’s memories, it’s stories creaking with the swelling wood. And I swoop up and out of the the whiteness, remembering, feeling, right back there in our life with our son in year two, you in familiar conflict with your brother and the slow un ravelling around your Mum. And I am not here, this is too alien, this is not my world. I am not floating gently to the next place in a life I feel displaced in.
I’m fragmented.
I need to get up but I’m a collection of pieces. And tomorrow is the 15th.

15/8
Sat out the other side of Denmark, smelling the seaweed, too far from home. Nothing works, I can’t deal with people, their carefree consuming irritates me, their happy end of holiday faces replete in too much of everything. I feel flat, I’m uneasy with a bile that builds steadily. The suns round the corner, we are anticipating the edge of a storm. I touched the edge months ago, if anything, more queasiness will be a good fit tonight. I want to be thrown around, tipped down the corridors, bounced of a floor that drops away because that’s just how it is. That’s the instability in my head. I don’t care that it’s the last formal night, I plan to shove down a main course and run, only facing it because our son wants to and we spent some of the early nights having tea in the room. I’ve done necessary avoidance for a while. Right now I’m wondering why I bother, is any of this worth it? Should I do something totally different without these significant triggers? How am I going to get through the remainder now? Sun, white speckled deep green, lulling, soothing, calming but it has much work to do to take away this feeling.

I’m in no place to assess the merits of this trip, I do know why I did it, but leave it now, let it be. My eyes and cheeks are getting sore as the heat creeps round. It’s a strange place, manageable when it’s tucked away inside but when it comes out to play, screaming terror in your face, the frivolous surroundings and people push me down, darker, deeper, more absolute into my familiar wound. That’s it I suppose, the wound, hacked off limb with no anaesthetic, throbbing quietly, changing my gait. But now it’s bathed in salt from the North Sea, rubbed up and down the gash, burning feeling back and right now I’ve lost my bearings, compass points to nowhere I know well. Messy metaphors are muddled like me and I can’t do anything, be anything, interact or rest. I’m back 18 months ago, waiting and knowing. And in my current space feel like a waste of carbon.

Sailing home
So what
Void

16/8 Bruges, Belgium
Opened curtains to busy port. Rode out last nights storm, sheets of white lightning switched flashing energy across the ocean. Despite my empty lowness, a clamouring fear seeps in. I feel our paper boat, soaked and torn bashed about on the waves. I’ve run out of what I need, I’ll be glad to get home.

Wandering through quaintness, 335 steps up to the top though we don’t climb it and it still looks like the other old honeymoon towers. Gargoyles in windows preventing evil spirits. I look in their eyes but they can’t stop these feelings. Alms houses, quietly line the lapping river, built for deserving old people and widows, so we’re told and I smile on the inside.
Our son rests his head on the side of the boat, he pulls at passing trees like on that boat trip in Warwick on our way North for your Mum’s service.
Everything looks like somewhere else, like the trip you enjoyed down the river in Canterbury when the flowers reflected in the water and we stayed in the upside down house.
The guide drones on like a cross between Poirot and Captain Manwairing with a laconic, guttural style that quickly loses it’s charm and too many men are wearing your clothes though their height and walk are all wrong and I can’t escape anything, and I’m here and it’s lovely but I can’t click to Enjoy.
Poirot points out the Weeping witch, appropriately a rare version of your tree and an uneasy medieval air follows me around like a child in a red duffle coat.
And we come out, through the market, passed the beer collection and somehow magically, into Florence. And it’s all so familiar, taking me back to before and I struggle with every step, failing to be in the moment.
Sweet bells chime like our Millennium Evening over the shackled church where judgement was passed in a spit and well aimed old tomatoes.

When Piorot finally concludes his act we ache back to the room and a sickly sweetness stays in my throat after too much Belgian fudge, which held some appeal for a moment but can’t take the edge off anything really.

While I tap, I hear the churning port, clanking it’s freight. A place in motion, no time to pause. I’m tired of all the faces and considered accessories. I’m hiding away from the last cheery sail off. I don’t need to wave bits of plastic to mark where I’m going.

We’re going home.

I know it in my flatness, my weary sense of some achievement, my bag of dirty washing, my presents for those that matter, my frustration for the way it couldn’t be, my sadness for the way it had to be, my understanding for the way I try, my pride for me and our son, my acceptance of the need to change, my gladness of the welcome that waits, my resolve to keep at it and my relief at the tears that come so freely now.

As you used to say, in a stolen Martin Clunes line ‘you’re going to keep going out with me till you bloody well enjoy it…’
I think the same may be true of our new life now.
We are heading home in twenty minutes. The sun beats down over the stacked up crates.
I need the quiet stillness of home,
I need to stop,
I need to be.
I know why we made this trip.
I know what we did.
I know.
Following your way.
I travel – therefore I am.

17/8
Drizzly, wet, low, dank Southampton.
Dirty grey hatchback creeps through the early morning mist. The city throbs. I shake my hair down.
Our pilot ship guides us in on our way.
We are home.
Now what?
X

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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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Another venture to the Secondary environment but this time with me for a uniform evening. Anticipating the walk back with bags full of the future, held together with a mess of pride. 

We hit the hall, packed with families out in force. Dads bought out for the evening, helping holding bags, standing around looking awkward and keeping an eye out for a familiar face to bond with. Piled high with plastic bags folded, polyester creases in place, bored, restless children being reeled in, to try on and size up. I bump into the usual suspects who I hung with at the start of Primary and now here we all are at next phase, although our worlds separated months back.  The dads hang around like clothes horses, observing shoulder fit and  nodding and we rustle passed them, I try to stay focussed on my job.

We started out well but our sons strop wasn’t far away and it built steadily, gaining strength alongside my frustration, holding it in, holding it together and I coped through the rugby shirts and even the jumpers with a vivid flashback to him bouncing on the bed in his bright red primary sweatshirt. But now the blazer is wrapped around him and the shoulders are slightly big with sleeves that need adjusting and you should have been there to help, to share, to probably have skulked off and sat somewhere out of it while I joked and compared notes with the mothers. But you weren’t holding the bags or guiding us on the fit of a jacket and he looked up at me for a second with your eyes, with his messy end of day hair and I felt it all and saw how we’d got to that place. And how that point in space-time had bought us to the shiny buffered hall floor, with us hot and tired and grumpy, with him reluctantly being turned round and tucked with flappy penguin sleeves that I’ll sew up over summer and my patched up house of cards fell around me while I saw it all for an endless moment.

Doing it, getting on with it the best we can, as your Mum would say ‘making a do’. And I remembered how you hated clothes shopping, always kept things till they came round again like the awful green shirt that could only be worn out of irony and I flip back to the protesting Saturdays, the buying of the new suit and how the right girth made the sleeves too long but with the right sleeves it wouldn’t do up at the front.
And I’d do my best to advise you and it was ok in the end. And the blazer you bought with your Mum, way before her decline when you’d both ventured into Manchester and you would only wear it on a less formal work day when you could get away without a tie and we joked it was your Terry Wogan look. And none of these things could be referred to or laughter about because It was just me managing and judging it, in this world and getting through the bare necessities as quickly as I could. 
But if you’d been there physically you’d have felt it, you’d have recognised the moment too and you’d have got something in your eye.

And we bundled ourselves out into the quiet playground and darned up our issues in time to walk home. And we retraced the steps past the other school, the one where we’d watch the firework displays and you’d always bump into Phil and disappear off by the burger van and we’d walk home carefully through the darkness, herding children with our friends, lit with tubes of snapped fluorescent light while you chatted to the gardener discussing seeds of thought. And we’d tumble through the doorway, watering, smokey eyes ready for hot-dogs and hot mugs and it was all so very normal – but not today.

Today I walked through darkness in the early evening dusk, bouncy yellow bags blaring out the new school logo, banging on my legs while he swung his bagged up blazer, half chuffed, half annoyed. And we were lit by our resolution to mind the curb and keep walking, one tired foot in front of the other, with new things to wear in a new world with the first of many jackets to come.

A careful necessary stepping out to a point when the sleeves aren’t too long and he’ll look in the mirror to shave and see you looking back.

I left home with our son, a seamless echo of the boy you knew but came home with a teenager, a flash forward to the man ahead.

x

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I close the door as he strides off on his Secondary school taster day.

He walks away down the path, the way you used to go to Starbucks, with a stride increasingly like your amble, off to meet Alfie and Tom and do the walk for the first time.
I run upstairs and watch his back for as long as I can and half way down the path he diverts left and I know he’s paused at the tree swing. He’s put his bag down, the rucksack that we last used on our last journey North, crammed with pens and activity books and we stuffed ourselves into the car with our over night things not knowing it wouldn’t happen again. And now I’ve shaken the crumbs from the rucksack and packed it with lunch and sharpened pencils and it’s slightly too big for him but he’ll grow into it like everything else.
And he’s out of sight but I see the branches sway with his weight, pulled down, waving to me, showing me where he is and I feel the weight. I remember his weight, learning to hold him, to lift him carefully from the cot and bend my knees and keep my back straight and I feel him in my arms now, smelling warm with the morning, soft and wriggly before our day ahead. And while you worked and managed issues and put up with their politics, we crawled on the floor and made up silly songs and you smiled at us later, dancing to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with the old throw on the floor. And he sat across your resting legs as you bounced him up and down and we were us in our silly ways and we were us in all our moments.

And I sit here on this side of the bed where we first watched Teletubbies and you and your Mum stood here after your trip into town that first week, when our son was tiny and she bought us the heavy brass photo frame with the thick black velvet backing and you started to worry about her, her button brightness starting to tarnish. And now I sit here in silence wondering how far down the route he has travelled and imagining the chatter as they bundle their way to the start of something new, feeling unsure and excited and grown up but still a child.

And I just get a text from him now to say he’s got there and the cold tightness leaves me.
I sit up and lean forward, I look past the small clay dish piled with your spare change, the one he made for you with squashed out sides from small pushing thumbs. I look past the bottle of water, the inside speckled with old condensated bubbles, an uneven line of them sit just above the still quiet water level, punctuating the plastic and from this angle the flattened out oval reflects the milky sky. And beyond it the path where he walked an hour ago and swung on the wood before marching away.
I focus on the leaves in the distance, the branches swaying slowly now in the air, moving with nature.

I sit in the quiet stillness and listen to my breath, the cursor flashes with my heartbeat.
Somewhere further away than normal but closer than I can describe he’ll be buzzing with his friends, listening, thinking, learning what’s next, putting one foot in front of the other as he navigates steadily on his path, like me.

Holding him invisibly,
3.30 can’t come soon enough.
X

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Monday 14/5/12 – Anticipation

Just caught glimpse of him as he went through the door, geared up, wrapped in love with special things in his lunch box, with all that I needed to say to him having been said. And he knows where my thoughts will be and I find it slow going to move away. Waiting now through the hub bub of breakfast club, feeling his excitement, striding into it with an air to be proud of. Sensing the buzz in the background, want to stay close but I can’t. Walking gently to the bench for a moment before negotiating life in Sainsburys for the baking stuff I’d promised. Will spend the time in flour, mixing strength into the grains. This bright morning has slipped, a coldness sneaks but I head for the table for a while. And I stomp over the dried mud with a stride that mirrors his and it’s not quite warm enough for what I’m wearing. But I’m glad. It takes me back to last springs irrelevance of clothes, bare, oblivious arms but in this charged morning I feel the distance that we’ve travelled. I can look back and glance ahead, my cold arms are much stronger now. They hold him, hold him up high so he can see beyond the obstacles around us. And while my trusty wood pidgeon strokes comfort with his call, I remember the words from another lifetime.

There’s no weight, no weight at all.

I want to sit here, removed but close, sending power, the invisible ties never thicker. but I need to leave, I’ll be there – wherever I am. He’s encased now, preparing himself. I know what he said to me and I’ll carry that throughout this part of the journey. For now, I can’t do anymore. Slipping into the day with awareness and love.

One rainbowed raindrop on my screen.

It’s coming.

I need to buy cocoa powder.

Tuesday 15/5/12 – Apron Ties

Quick word before I hurry back.

Walked quicker today, preoccupied, not designed for being out in it all. Getting buffeted by the wind for a while and try to let the feelings subside. Home to fairycakes today, a new mixture, a new taste

– new bird call interrupting.

Don’t look up, I should go. Look at this sunlight forcing out over wet wood, dampened darkened ends. Back home wading through a difficult and muddled start with a blend of sadness from an evening unfurled without event. In our new normalness, feeling the slipping away of childhood as he learns to face their hoops to jump through. The necessities of life, the management of obligations and finding out how to filter out what’s important and as I type he writes at that table in the classroom they used in the old world, with the sun arcing through the window, straying across his page. Wavelengths lifting his connections and feeding the foundations we gave him as I type and he holds the pen tightly and carefully constructs the phrases and ideas and runs with the story in the way we know he can. And his space is shafted in photons and if he looks up will see dust on the beams, but he’s head down, focussed and the dust dances around him. And I am moving to a parallel dance but I can’t see his words so I bake instead. I busy myself in the kitchen and collect the ingredients and I stir them together, weighed and guessed and known and I do it like when we were younger and bowls were meant to licked clean and mucky faces meant a job well done. He stood on the stool to mix ginger in and the bicarb fizzed and we knew it would be good and we always made a special one for Daddy and he never really understood flour. He told us so and we knew it wasn’t on his radar nor his mothers, but you didn’t visit her for the smell of baking you went to see her, for her.

But I baked because Grandma did and she passed the rolling pin onto Mum and the apple pies were more than pies and the pastry rose and flaked with ingredients you can’t buy in the shops. And Grandmas cake tin, chipped enamel, cream and cool green, proudly proclaiming Cake in bold letters and the difficult choice of with or without currents. And they were somehow always slightly damp, in her walk in larder with that comfortable fustiness that smelt of Sunday visits.

And now it’s me who needs and kneads, adding to the bowl and looking at the clock and puffed up in my clouds of white dust, resting on me as I stir and think and wait and feel. Pat it and prick it and mark it with something else, before the rush of welcomed warmth as I place the content inside. Let the chemistry do it’s job, to change its form but keep the same elements deep and safe within. And I separated thin paper cases and choose the right colour as he puts down his pen and rubs his hand, in the sunrays streamed around him.

Wednesday 16/5/12 – Warming

Sun’s out, passed the time with familiar faces and have ginger to buy for today’s therapy.

Won’t stay long, the combination’s just about right today. Resting my arm on warm table, enough of a breeze to remind me of winters legacy. But the sun is everywhere, on my shoulder, around the shadows, heating up my arm as I find the words. And the air blows around me back on the beach and I remember the steps and the rocks we picked up. Holding the days heat now, on our windowsill under the old curtain. A rusty dog arrives, shiny russet in my light, delighted to gallop with Bailey, a fluster of fur and they’ve gone. I would sit here for ages in a different week, but not now, not today. The sun holds on tight, holds my arm and I know I’ll take it with me. He’s indoors now getting ready for day three of four and we’re slipping into our new way and we are finding a strength. And we are not trying were just doing it, both of us, tied together in out new place, testing ourselves while this insistent energy heats up our side of the planet.

My screen looks green, polarised.

Shadows of my hair blow across my arm

I am warm

This is ok

Sunlight shines up out of last circles of dew on the table.

Pools of bright whiteness.

Good.

Thursday 17/5/12 – Displaced

Around about now he’ll go out to break, whipped up and buzzy now its all over and I had a different start, having to drop into the old world. I was met by a variety of faces and the genuine ones took my arm and their sincerity eased me through the tasks. And I saw echoes of the old me and remembered her and her life while he settled down for the final job. And it was oddly painfully comforting and I need to spend some time with this, working out the next steps, what to prune and what to nurture.

And I had no time to sit today so glanced at the empty hill top table before an early descent for the last ingredients. And just before the doors was hugged by another smiley old chapter, fluttering its pages around me, stepped into and through it and felt the strangeness of existing in a new world in my old landscape.

And the settee took over for a while as I trudged through the meaning and now I need to bake the promise, the thick gooey layered one that we talked about and planned last week. And it will be full of his favourites and it will be special and sweet. And I hold onto what I’m doing, what I need to do and prepare myself along with the tins. Lined for an easy departure, to lift the warm lightness, crumbly and risen and slide it to the plate. And the chocolate will be glossy and the message sugared out in love. And I sit here, knowing that it will be ok, that he’ll be covered in chocolate and we will celebrate and everything will be in its place.

Everything – except

the sound of the key in the door.

New world

New ways

Same old pain.

x

Friday came home quickly and carefully through mud still noticing but not stopping. One day away from SATS and the start of the end of primary and we walk up together but he comes back alone. That morning we agreed after half term he’ll do both ways without me. He joked ‘Oh I see, you don’t want my company anymore!’ and we laughed because he knows, although he doesn’t feel it. And I will still choose to leave early but go a different way then. My morning walk amongst the dogs is now etched into my grieving and I would miss it now if it stopped just like somehow I’ll miss the tears.

I’m wrapping myself up for something else, some inevitability, a force directing me through this process. I sit in the quiet house while he’ll be busy buzzing about at registration. I sit on the settee we bought back at the start, that I sat up all night on because my back was shot away, so I couldn’t lie flat and I slept sitting up with our newborn beside me and your Mum came to stay. But you were worried and saw the early signs of the illness that took her and we stumbled our way through babyhood, such amateurs but finding a way somehow. And you came home at lunchtime to make sandwiches because I couldn’t negotiate the stairs and I lived on the bed for months and my breath was for him.

And I sit on the settee that he clambered up with the cushions we built dens with, where I sat and videod the shifting ages and the bond through the pain carved out this relationship. And I sit where we watched him open all the presents and build his favourite track that you’d hidden in the back of the car and where you lay with him sat across you and I remember the speed you moved when toilet training backfired on you in the evening home from work. And watching Tractor Tom on his first day after Pre-school and lying his uniform, all bright dye and daz white, creases in place over the back. And I am enfolded in it all. The moments, the memories, the hours of a life and a settee where you watched Star Trek together and we watch it now and the place he sat on that morning when I got him up early and the front door was open and there were fluorescent men in the house.

And now the settee is a mess of tissues and I start to prepare for the next stage. To go with the process, to embrace this nature of change, to feel the pain of separation and in that moment know I’m still alive. That I have this women’s work, this joy, this wound. But the wound will form a scar and the skin will grow back differently, thicker, damaged but stronger. This wound will not define me but through the agony of loss allow this transformation, to evolve into something more.

So I sit on our settee that we chose in their Aladdin’s cave in Oxford, with Brie’s crazy dog who they’d lock in the toilet when we visited and she talked at double speed in her lilting brogue about the old days when she worked with your Mum in the mills. And I sit here now and remember it all and I roll and fall through the images and feelings, the colours of a life with our baby, our toddler our little boy. Our big boy now and the approaching teenager who I will guide in a new way, with a finer touch, with a softer punch, yet a stronger arm. With a different me, with new challenges, to take me on instead and fall out, to not lock antlers with you, to understand and make sense of it all, of who he was, of who he needs to be, of who he chooses to become. And how to assimilate all that he knows and to grow with the loss, grow into and through the loss and become strengthened by the natural lines of movement.

And I will hold his hand tightly though he won’t feel it and I will learn and listen and look around for guidance and I will ease us both through this transition. I will face it like I face this pain and I will find a way. And I will learn when to stand still and when to move and I will feel him shift around me and I will pay attention to the rhythms while he finds out what he needs. And all of our moments that carved us into here will hold me up and run and dance around me as we do it. The love that I sit in, that surrounds us, that forms us and I will feel it guide me as I offer no resistance.

Soon.

It’s approaching. I need to prepare, lengthening the cord still further. Steadily, feeling it, going with it. Easing us into our next place.

Cycles, circles

Turning wheels

Life

Our son

Your gift

My world

x

P.S

Thinking about our first walk when we got lost trudging back from Compton tethered together up the main road that runs under my bridge. I cross over and see us, new and drifting under the structure as I scurry over it in my reformed world. Going back soon to write and tidy and work through the day. I’m a bit stuck, the lightness of the sky eats into my horizon. I hear the bus pull away, my hand is warm and cold at the same time. Just biding time today, should go really, things to do, people to be, someone in one guise or another. My hair blows behind me like dog ears, I don’t like this light, it’s neither one thing or the other. The clouds are too low but not low enough. It’s cold but not enjoyable. Ravens stoop around today, hooded, sullen, darting in front. My cold is winning, I feel rough. I choose warmth, I think.

Heading back for the kettle. Bit odd today.

And just before leaving I look back at the table. The dried out wood has become a winters beach, stripped back wood, pale blonde, untroubled by feet. No comforting sand here to push into with a cool sun on your back, to reclaim the beach in isolation because no one else knows it’s here. And you can walk untouched by everything and listen to each lap of water and as it strokes back, pulling away from the town. It’s shiny pebbles glinting and sparkling in its wake. It takes your thoughts with it, each moment a glimpsed feeling over the stones, there for a second then part of something more and you stand and you watch as the seconds comes and go, rush up quietly, gently and subside and you let your feeling go with it. Glossing the landscape, spray your feet, your wet gritty toes digging deep into another world, teeming beneath in a place out of sight. And you are there, not quite cold but owning the beach and the moment and letting it drift all around you. You crouch down study the pools, the silky water slips from your grasp as you find the right stone, smooth eon shaped by friction and you turn it over in your grainy hand, appreciate its lines and looking out to a space in time, skim it with precision. And watch until the circle scattered water has finished its pattern and everything is good and in its place.

And while I’m cold on my bench high up above this town, I smell the salt in the air. I choose another pebble and shove it deep in pocket then turn to go, slip shifting up the stones to find the path again. Knowing my pebble’s still out there, somewhere, just out of view. With the sun shining back up, pinpoints of light in our universe.

Being

And as the heat rises over our beach I glance at the rape field in the distance warming up my day now, in this present place.

x