Archives for posts with tag: memorial

 

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February 27th

It feels like November today, any sniff of spring has been blown off course by these squally showers and as I watch the fields through the raindrops on these windows, I think of back then.

My boots still smell of the farm, the hay sodden around my low heels and I trudged. The grain made my eyes water as I followed through the mud to find the sheep. And here and there low murmurings, deep bleating and they huddled and bundled themselves up. The new lambs are still unsteady and they trample around their mother’s teats. Some shy away but most are interested in the presence of the strangers.

And I am such a stranger, I tiptoe through the sopping mud, it laps my boots, it cries out for wellies as I watch. The farmer says they’ve bought the sheep into the barn because the weather had turned bad. He apologised – as though he should have controlled the sun, as though lambs should only come out to the smell of fresh grass with the rays warming up their plastered down fur. They nuzzle, he points out the next one ready for labour and she stretches her neck out, she paces and pads the earth.

She has found her spot. Once they’ve chosen their place they will not move from it, he says and they nestle down. She sniffs at the new borns in the next pen, keen for her own and I watch.

The herd wander around with little plan, like my thoughts, like the mess of images in my head. They jostle for attention, compete for food as I think of my friend on her beach at the start of her journey and me and our son stepping out then, on ours. I remember writing words for the service while she spun in chaos far from home. And there we were, unknown to each other, on that day being birthed  from the safety of our respective worlds into a land we didn’t recognise, blinking on new straw.

There was something so brutal about the farmland today, so essential, the irresistible force to push on and out and I felt it in the bristle of the mother’s tongue, in the grasp of the farmer’s hand as he eased out more new life. There in front of me dazed and bewildered, finding its feet in this pulse of nature, as I think of my friend, as I think of my preparations back then.

Nature charging on regardless, relentless and driven.

 

February 28th

I’ve been watching the clouds again, how they’re pulled into a vortex to my right, the shadow trees were waving at me this morning as I passed by and now the rain is back. It’s dripping cold onto the farm pastures, the animals are inside and I arrange flowers back at home.

I bought alstroemerias, they look like tiny lilies and as I shuffle and tweak them in the vase, the rooks and the crows take flight, they cut up the air in such haphazard patterns. They look like they don’t know what they’re doing, absent minded winging on the winds but they’re guided by instinct, by nature and far away from them, in the warm, in our home  – so am I.

 

March 1st

There was a stillness down on the farm this morning. it wasn’t cold or warm, no biting wind or early rain, no spring sun, just a grey heavy cloud cover and a sense of the land waiting. The crows circled and landed, poked about and waddled in the mud, they’d found a puddle to drink from and gathered like old men at a wake, heads bowed, arms folded behind their backs and they nodded and paid their respects to the earth. They sipped and pecked around for food, then took off in a scattering, zig zaged black in my view and then the seagulls came in. They flew across in a broken badge, in a triangular twist with such purpose and I watched them pass by like my thoughts, like my feelings of back then.

I didn’t see the farmer today but his wife rushed out, their daughter was stuck in the mud, her truck revving up, going nowhere and she waved and laughed. I noticed her pony tail, hair scaped up for the day’s business and her practical clothes as she jumped from the cab, a round reinforced girl, fed from the land, unattached to the animals she raises and then eats. She didn’t mind being stuck, it happens and sooner or later you get out. She clambered back in the truck, plumped down on the the ripped leather seat and reversed out of the ditch.

Sometimes you have to go backwards before you can go forwards again.

xxx

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I used to walk a lot in the early days, I’d drop my son at school and then head back across the field near the top of my town. I started writing there, sat on an old bench, avoiding the mashed bubble-gum and smashed late night bottles. The parish council took my bench away after a few months, replaced it with a picnic table, where I leaned and wrote and watched the pigeons on the wire.

And the tribe of dog walkers came, I didn’t know the owners but grew to know the dogs by name as they called out for them, as they ran. My favourite was called Bailey, a daft springer spaniel, who would come up to me and say hello, fuss around me with his damp fur and snuffling nose and I’d think of you. In those days your blog was still quite new, a big part of my week, like it became for so many of us and I learned whatever I was feeling, was similar to others, that we were bound by an invisible thread that your writing underlined.

And I’d sit in the cold, in the rain, in the sun, seasons moving around me as I wrote, and when the landscape had done its job, when I’d aired the feelings that were too big for the house, I’d wander home. I’d hug a warm mug while I edited, and you were there at the click of a mouse, behind the scenes in my inbox, with a solidarity that comes from pain. Your messages helped me carve out the life that I have now and I want to tell you about it. I want to tell you that I’m waiting, any day now, for the result of my degree, I want to chat with you about the new projects I’m working on, but I can’t, not in the way I used to.  I want to hear your news, open up your replies, to read your words and stories.

And today I can feel others preparing, its moving around us, the memories, the triggers from back then, timelines plaited as they travel, to be together because of you.

I think about my walks in the field while you wandered on the Heath but I never owned a dog. I’m too allergic to their fur, but I love them. I love their wild abandon, their joy and verve and loyalty. I think of Bailey back then, charging towards me, desperate for the connection, the need to nuzzle and say hello and just for that moment, I’d take his wet head in my hands and ruffle him up, then he’d spin chaotic circles around me because he knew. He knew I needed to sense his spirit, his energy urging me to live again, to run with him, to stop and sniff some detritus that’s he’d spied and to be free.

And when I sat in my field, nodding to dog walkers, I used to think of you and Boris, his russet coat shining in the rays and you striding out, churning thoughts of blog posts in your mind, and we’d inch forwards together. Stumble backwards, stand still then creep back out again, all of us, with or without a dog to guide us and now we’re here.

Here, in this morning and in the stillness of the house I think of friends, some I know well, some I’ve chatted with and some I’ll never really know and they head out, bound together in our stories and the linking up of hands.

It’s cold today, bright and clear, the tail end of autumn, calling winter. I want to be back in the field, hanging on the internet and blog posts to lead the way. But I’m inside. I’m still in my parka, hat and scarf, I lean up the radiator and imagine myself on my bench. I look out towards the Cathedral as the mist clears and you march out towards me, smiling, lead stretched out in front of you with Boris scampering, his paws kicking up the dried leaves, the sunlight caught in the flecks of dust around you as you walk.

 

With love to your tribe, travelling,

With love to you for the difference you made.

Thank you, Helen, so much.

Jxx

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Thursday March 1st

This is perfect

Heavy fog, mist drip tapping onto me.

Hanging on branches, can’t see very far ahead. Before the bridge can’t see the other side. Everything shiny and seeping. I turned right don’t know why. Halfway up a different path stop and listen. Sharp branches in foreground with washed out trees beyond. The traffic is calling, I must check this route another day. The distant shapes are inviting but I need the hill, I wonder where this goes? I want to escape. Turn back for the bridge. Catch the raindrop from the rusty grid of fencing, holding back nature. I burst its surface tension, its invisible wetness on my finger. The bright yellow arrow points north west insisting to me its a footpath. I take its hard plastic advice. And all the metal struts are hung with glass beads and thread pushed out and woven with instinct to catch food. And I resist the temptation to brush them away on my hand, forcing them to rebuild without resentment, without anger, just doing it because you have to feed – relentless parenting. And the wings flush by me, and the white is so heavy I want to keep walking into it, to be swallowed whole by the mist but if I do when I get there it will still look the same. Pidgeon reminding me it’s time to go. All I can see are faded outlines of what used to be there. I know it’s underneath somehow but I can’t see it, have to feel it instead. Can hear the pidgeon nearby but can’t see him. The cold’s building, the greyness hangs. This is a close fit today – Submerged in thick scared desolation. Beyond weighted down. Anticipation, knowing it will lift at some point but right here, right now,

it’s solid dense saturating clawing imploring calling me into it.

Heavy, consumed and lost

I look back

everything has disappeared

I look forward and see only solid white

Stand

Wait

Friday March 2nd. 

Last time before the weekend

Cold, calm earlier, want to hold onto it

But there is no holding just being

It may shift again

Still misty

But not the denseness from yesterday

Owner calls for busy terrier and behind me a selection of dogs have joined the day

Sun trying to force itself up

Real interruptions now blocking me with phone calls and her focussed dachshund 

‘That must set you back a bit – did a mental calculation’

Unfeeling, feeling too visible and vulnerable

Leave them to their briskness, leads in hand

I’m off the leash myself, out of bounds.

Going home

Later

Our friend turned up in his familiar way and wandered round the back, off to hunt boar. He came to help with the garden and my husband used to envy his life wrestling with nature and words and now he’s here balancing a spade because the job would make my back ache.

I take myself away as the sounds start and staring through the pain I listen absently to the deep thump pause of preparation.

I study our willow star, it’s raffia ties crinkled dry by the months. And lose my place until the throaty throb of his petrol motor torques its way up and over the lawn.

The sparrows compete for special offer worms eager, plump and fresh. Revealing.

The sun doesn’t quite break through but the waiting creeps forward,

The movement is irresistible,the process is becoming.

Saturday March 3rd

Steeling myself and feeling inescapable movement through the day. An inevitability approaching like the first weekend in-between the first and second conversations.

Tomorrow we work on the garden together.

Sunday March 4th

Early morning, listening to our son’s breathing and through the curtains that belonged to a different land I lie under the washed out grey. The gentle pittering becomes more insistent, It sounds Good, cleansing and pure. It feeds my earth. It’s natural process, turning, moving, being.

The patio is dark and shiny, the leaves heavy. Under the soil everything ticks and buzzes with potential. A universe I can’t see but sense, but feel.

Everything is in motion

Including me

The rain has a softer punch but keeps coming. Everything is saturated with this anticipation,

moving through stillness.

Wrapping myself up.

The rain is cold despite moments of spring. My feet tingle from the soaked concrete, last years leaves have changed but they’re still glossy and proud. I can see my breath. The bare trees cut black angles across the thin grey wash in front of me.

I flip away, she’s in her red fleece, I take her arm, he never likes the trip but loves the connection. And she can’t decide what to eat so he chooses for her and we knew she had stopped worrying.

And as it turns to autumn on my March day I catch sight of my reflection in the double glazing with my necklaces from then and now. A double set repeated, normally not visible, but in this light, at this angle through the raindrops and the dust I can see the things beyond.

Later he wrote into the patio dirt with the bright noisy power washer. He laughed at the mud we generated, he soaked me and washed the windows and in gloves way too big for him he scooped while I patted. The rich fresh earth smelt good, the roots breathing, untangling, finding a new place, stretching tentatively in their new found direction.

As I wait for the water to stop I glance around the garage, our old big fridge that used to be full of made up milk feeds by his bachelor cupboards, worn grubby with age and histories, stiff drawers packed with essential nonsense, a younger writing from when it lay ahead of him, And our son’s blue bike that we hurried behind easing him into finding his balance, just like his dad before him. And he wobbled then and we wobble now and we still need stabilisers as I stand amongst our dusty cobwebs, our crumpled mess of memories. Outgrown obsolescence. Out of the house but still attached.

And it’s cold and wet and evening is pushing us inside.

I turn the tap tightly

Tomorrow is coming.

 x

Yesterday March 5th

I will be here tomorrow morning too

Stood in the glare of the sun, brambles catch me as I go by. It’s bitter but the rays strip the clouds across and above, the traffic moves freely, the wind cuts into my neck, time for my table. Crossing the bridge. I will come back this way. I pull some gauzed seeds from the enticing thicket, it resists me and I pull till its free. It’s smooth black tips torn from their potential. I stand for a while on the bridge staring into the oncoming traffic, shielding my eyes from the dazzle. I loosen my grip and the seeds are carried from behind through the railings and disappear into the morning. And now I stand higher up I can see more from over here. Can see beyond the cathedral to a place I’d  barely spotted before. Despite spring sunshine the bitterness from yesterday’s short cruel snow remains and I understand winter isn’t over yet. I pick my route with care and get to the table. The icy wind competes and almost wins over the sun on my back. My hands are buzzing, it feels so different today, the wood will take ages to warm up.

And in the light of my March morning all things fade to a being with my soul, a four count rhythm and the memories of their words.

It’s time to go

x

At home

Surrounded by every second and memory of our life crashing swirling dancing, cradling hurling sneaking, bashing and forcing themselves around me.

I wait

I can’t do anymore

I need to be

I wait for the doorbell

x

Today March 6th

After

I don’t know where to be today, how to be

The bench is too wet

The ground slippy muddy icy

The wood pidgeon still trying to direct me, it’s shadow circles round, Icy air blows through me, I feel yesterday’s immense pain hovering and want to find a place to be. My shadow is still long, the mist has gone, the whirring feathers beat air past me.

I want to write here until I feel nothing. Until I can’t hear the bird call, the squealing children, the buzzing roads, the humming underground, the tweeting on top, their impatience piercing, the hurried children, the abstract banging, the hollowed cry, the heavy sound of a world still churning and a child screaming on the wind. And I only have white heat at the end of my arms and I want to write until it stops, until I can’t move anymore, until there’s nothing left and the engine throttle disappears taking me with it and I’m in bright open physical pain mirroring the endless emotion while the birds delight in their existence.

I am frozen I am pain I am here

Still

The pidgeons are on lookout behind me. My ears are ringing under the wafting bird flight, lorry reversing, plane throbbing, winter bareness persisting.

Time to negotiate the steps in front of me.

And under the bridge I walk past the shuffling old man that he didn’t become and nod to the cloud of perfume from the old world and round the back now appreciating warmth and feeling the pull of our garden. And I stand beneath the tree we could see from our window, the sun warms my frozen face, the shadows are still stretched out under the sirens and brushing wheels. The leaves and litter are carried regardless.

Time to return

x