Archives for posts with tag: the force

October 19th 2017 

And as our son’s train leaves the platform and he heads off with his mates, I find myself.

I find my mind has drifted to this city and the first time I came down. I remember your tall friend who criticed the way you ate asparagus and we wandered down through West Gate and out towards the Cathedral. It was June or July, the afternoon was warm and the streets were full of entertainers, crowds shoving to get a better view. We must have stayed a while, chatting but your friend has blurred into a mist of that weekend and her flat at the top of town and her party games when we were brand new. 

Our son’s train has arrived now, I checked his progress on my phone and as he wanders off with his new friends, I see the light lift here and I go back. 

I bought you a book years ago ‘How to Read a Church,’ though you didn’t use it at the Cathedral. It’ll be on its side in the bookshelves somewhere, stuffed in amongst all the others. I keep thinking about the Cathedral, how its silent shape has been a backdrop in my life and tomorrow I’ll be sitting there, waiting my turn to go up but my mind falters. It bounces back to Millenium Eve, and how my feet ached from the walk down from the top of town. My New Year’s Eve shoes, shoved into my bag, my flat pumps easing out my soles and we stood. We’d sat inside with the hundreds of others, on the left at front, in the cold. And under the silence of stone, in the wisdoms of those who’d sat there before us, we wrote notes. The huge tree with open arms flooded the space with pine scent and ushers collected up our words with all the others and then hung them on the tree. We sat watching the century end, linked with the warmth of strangers wishes and sent love and health to our unborn son.

Afterwards, outside there was a quieting, a murmuring hush of the crowd waiting for something to happen. And in the dark we hung around in the mizzle with our umbrellas and our smiles. The century slipped out, gentle, graceful and as the Millennium sauntered in with little fanfare, with a distant fizzle and sparkle of lights, the crowd laughted. We were there, before the big doors, heavy coats and deep pockets in the first seconds of the new year. There was no sense of anything having changed, just continuation and my tummy swaddled inside my clothes, with a heartbeat we’d yet to hear.

And then I flip further back to the day before our wedding and your Mum, whisked away by my parents to wander around the Cathedral, to give me some time to prepare. And while I glued the last of the silk roses onto the name-cards, they walked over the slabs my feet will cross tomorrow. 

And now a text from our son, busy in town, having lunch and while they laugh and test out their wings, I see us at Christmas, at markets and our friend who will join me tomorrow, is there. She holds up our boy on the ice rink, it’s packed, it’s hot and cold at the same time and everyone smiles even the people who bruise your leg with their skates.

Inside the changing area we struggle to free him from the metal clasps, but our friend is an expert and she helps amongst the rucksacks and snow heavy socks and with damp ankles and wet trouser legs, we make our way to a cafe in town, under the twinkling and huddling, in the soothe of hot chocolate we sit around. And as I see our boy bookended by her sons, he wears a red and white top that wouldn’t fit him now – he texts me from the train, he’s heading home.

And home is where we’ll leave from tomorrow, like we did years ago. When I took our son’s hand and we marched down the high street, a few weeks before Christmas with the lanterns that we’d made. The delicate tissue paper tributes to a world, to a vivid place we couldn’t hold. And as the Cathedral loomed up nearer, I stood for the first time by the same railings, feeling the pull and tear of a parallel world. Someone took a photo of us for a tourism website, I can see it, me looking side on, almost a smile as some distant children’s creation bought a joyful moment in the pain. But I looked so drawn, so small and smaller than me then was our son, stood to my left, wearing a deep green wooly hat and a fluorescent snap circle around his neck. He’s almost hidden in the dark but I can see him, illuminated by the band of light around him. 

And tomorrow I have to go back there, I need to go back and I want to. But I’m so sodden like our snow caked socks, so heavy like the lantern pole to light our way, so full with the hidden times inside me. 

These moments that are lining up now, like I’ll line up tomorrow, each of them a story of how I came to be and as I sit in the silence of stone, as I wait my turn, I’ll feel the Cathedral fill up with us all – my children, my girls and the women they became. I have such a sense of being followed, of swathes of females on my path, tomorrow they will spread out, they will chatter, they will dance and there at the front of the Cathedral they will join me, invisible but vital, as I stand to shake a hand. 

Our son is on a detour now, sidetracked by other friends, off for a moment at his old school, to take time, see old teachers and look back as he looks ahead.
And I wonder about all the people who’ve ever sat in the Cathedral and their stories and tomorrow, amongst the narratives there is such joy. A sense of creating, of neurones firing and of an irresistible surge to force up, through the stone slabs – up, despite the granite all around.

I must go now, I need to try on my dress and stop and think of tea. Tomorrow will come and I’ll be there, flickering full of emotions like the candles we held at the beginning, when our baby was centimetres long. And we’ll all walk up together, all the moments playing out, dancing and darting behind the pillars, in between the guests they’ll shimmer unheard, unseen but present, all my women who belong.  

In our Cathedral with our son, with friends  and gratitude for the woman I’ve become.
October 20th 2017

It’s Friday morning, the sun is lost behind the clouds but the bluster seems to carry all the seconds of my life with me and in the fracturing light on the windscreen, in the dappling spots of bright, I’m on my way. 

Children walk to school, heads down, wet dogs on leads with mud caked paws and the chatter of girls as we wait in traffic. It’s the morning of October 20th – I feel like I’m coming home. 

Later

And I sat, I studied the ceiling, the intricacies of the build, the strength of the pillars and as I walked back from the stage with a quickened pulse, with a tremble as though I were made of miniature fireworks sparkling, the sunlight pooled in above us, casting diamonds up the wall. 

xxx

I graduated today – for my husband, in absentia, with love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x

P.s
Playback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x

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Been Looking back over words written months ago when our son made a trip to Southampton and later when we passed through again, together, in a time machine and the images fragment and crackle with who we used to be and it’s all here, in these words from that town. The town that started my journey to here…

Last summer

I’m in our old places, in a new way and head down, tapping, full on avoidance. Can’t see the trees, hide from the ponies and moments. And I hear our son’s voice still with his young idiosyncracies that take me back to our Sundays before school. And the car park’s familiar but I have to do it, glance up quick, then head down from the roaming animals and I ignore the swerve of the roads, trying hard not to and think where we are, I can’t be in any of it at all.
I stay quietly tapping, hurting in silence, aiming but losing the moment, while I’m back at our first ever Sunday. Ice creams from the tiny shop, dressed in red, trying to find the bin, teeming river and the current cattle grid shakes my presence and I’m tired of memory. Sun crashes through, the suspension rattles me and I’m lost in the trees somewhere.

I feel blown by the day, sleepy and crushed. Can’t find the image for the thought but it’s close to a broken cobweb, holed and stretched, at the mercy of the weather, stale prey, cocooned limp hanging. And while I’m spinning in sticky thread, a flash of rain crackles the light and we crawl through under the bridge of colours, bringing hope by the dismal tower block.

Same morning – earlier

Back at the bench it’s cold and I feel strange. Just left him kitted out, off to Southampton for time in the world that he’ll grow into and I feel odd but ok. He’s as prepared as me and I can’t see much beyond the rooves, the sky hangs thick and low as I go back eighteen years to my own careful packing for the first trip south and our conversations move around me in the wind. The horizon blurs purple, the spring flowers pushing higher as I drift forwards and back to the forest, the first glimpse of ponies and the laughter of a townie running out of bounds.
I’m knitting it together, his presence of challenges unmet and a world we’re stepping into, with my tentative steps back then. This all belongs to someone else, someone I used to know. I need to unravel this carefully, think I’m too much in the present to look at the past but it will come, as the hall fills with suitcases and they wait for the coach.

I took the train south, was it really that long ago? And you showed me your town and the places I’d come to know.
Familiar haunts on Saturday mornings, crossing over the water for baguettes,
carefully filled bread, in the cafe that never had enough seats and we’d sit in the front, watching people, opposite the shop we bought the rocking chair from, a couple of years later, before the stool got stained by family and life.

And Waterstones after, ending up at the camera shop and evenings on the edge, at the Frog and Frigate and stories and tales of the land before. Before I crossed over into permanence and your friend came back from sea. And we felt the force around us and I can feel his excitement as the coach pulls up now, as I boarded the train back then and he’s going to test out the waters, near our country park. And as it starts for him I see us racing back up the long smooth road, cutting angles off the roundabouts as we hurried to make my connection on time.

And I did and I came back again, became a local girl, a platform regular, until the habit became away of life. And he’s bundled up with all he needs for now, all shiny and new with extra chocolatey bits on top but sepia stained for me, dog eared and torn with love.
And as he burbles from the coach, I go back to all our moments, visits and integration, the things to tolerate, the things I came to own and we’re freezing on Western shore, standing guard in the playground, in the dark, waiting for the ship to come in, peeled back layers of a time before it was our turn and they stood and waved at us.

And forest teas with the Midwich cuckoos, when he wasn’t allowed to touch toys, to buying essential nonsense from the tinkling hippy shop, magpie-ing my way around ephemera, through the incensed air, in the chromed up glossy mall, the one we revisited that last Christmas, when the Apple store hummed helpfully as your watch repair went wrong.
And I flip back and round like the waltzer our son hated, memories blurring as the colours of our years bleed into each other and I’m sick with the intensity and my head spins till I heave it out.

And it keeps coming at me, Portsmouth road on the bus, passed the Cod Plaice, while you worked, around the complex island, enjoying my freedom of feeling new and the eagerness of the short lived perfumed job and I can smell their shallowness and see me by the busy road, flat shoes, achy feet with discarded heels banging in a plastic bag. And I was so young, so improbably young, and I hear our quotes at Dad’s party, the day we mapped out the future.

And I remember Buffalo Bills, with our friend and his friends, meals with Nelson and his funny little ways, shining talk and us, full of stories from New York and the walls were plastered with film memorabilia and the toilet was a jungle. And I wore my favourite t-shirt, rushing past the Mayflower on the right, when I wore the black shoes with jeans and we parked round the back somewhere. And I was driven passed it recently, think it’s a coffee bar now or was it the place next door, boarded up, out of time?

And it continues, all the places from when we drove around, you showing us where you used to live, when you first moved down and how you’d gone to find digs, walking for miles, coping with a broken arm to accidental biking by the QE2.

And on and up to the Cowherds, stuffed with roasts, by the park up the avenue, where we watched the balloon festival, chasing the Desiderata song.

And sometime later driving by containers and freight, just like we did back then. That first trip, when the car was full of us and the gardener’s children and he told us the trip was ‘pregnant with possibilities’ to wind us up, like he always did.
And I see the shiny buildings, chromed up high to the air, where I got a job that I didn’t take because we moved and chuffed up the motorway.

And some time after, I saw our journey north, into the sun, leaving there for the new home. And as we skirted it’s edge I looked carefully right, past the cut through that you showed me, by the car park where I crunched gears and the bus stop that released me on the road to Hamble.

It was all there, like a film set, soft focussed and it happened and it didn’t. And I stared through it all, at the sun beating off the leaves, in a courtyard garden, near to where we used to live, in a world away, in times gone by, in a distance place, in another land before.
Beyond the now and up the hill, like your pick ups from St Marys with the red and white eyes lighting up out of the greyness and it’s all still there just around,
just beneath,
just existing, in it’s own plane, safe and untroubled from this reality.

And I need to leave this for a while and come back to the present and see how it jigsaws together, me then, him now, knotting the images, tying them tightly, harnessed securely in past and present. Someone I used to know, someone I used to be and her ways and their words, feeding into who I am.

Now.

Right now,
in this moment,
in this world, with these challenges, with this love, with these layers, with this knowledge, with this truth.

In this reality.

Now.

xxx

Ps

Sun setting over my merlot, ruby light pierced raspberry. Blood rich shards dance out, splintering pink into my room. I’ve travelled today, through years and space, pain and growth and memory. I’m disengaged now, displaced, confused. Carrying heavy, vivid luggage with me, till I can place it down again somewhere, somewhere safe and protected. For now I’m in it, wrapped up totally and lost, feeling who I used to be with love from who I’ve become.

x

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Feb 6th

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

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

and

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

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

Feb 8th

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

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

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

Now as then
This pain
This love
xxx

Feb 9th

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

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

Waiting.

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

Feb 10th

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

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

Feb 14th

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

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

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

x

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

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

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

Ps I know why I wrote this today x

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Watching it all, the white light, sun dot in a bead of condensation, the day shimmering on the winter branch outside, circles of diamonds left by my finger traces, a mist of micro spheres, packed together creating fog on my window, strings of world seeping through the drips, an invisible cage widening, thaw by thaw with the climbing brightness, the morning wet on everything.

I open the window to let the day in, the fresh winter cool waking up my skin, in the distance the flood of photons brush open new hills, the cottage down in the dip gets up steam, white washed, shaded blue from this angle. It’s boiler working deep inside, converting coal to energy, soft curled spits and twirls climb on the breeze, blurred pencil lines draw up and away from the roof under the gentle ebb and flow of our son’s dream filled breath.
 
Another year, another day, another moment.

Round we go again x

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December 15th

Just over a week to our second Christmas, (really?) Time messing with my head, walking in tandem with all the moments that bought us here. Jangling behind me like the relentless festive shop music. A lightless bulb in our permanent tangle of wire. And while I try to find some energy in today’s empty flatness our son is busy upstairs, narrating a Lego tale, splashing in our newly softened water…..

September 5th

Listening to the sound of our old water softener hiss, pop and crackle it’s salty job. Been thinking about changing it for a while, it’s 15 years now since Mr K sat on your creaky old pretend settee in our sparse newly moved into lounge. We bought it second hand, lovingly looked after, he told us, by an elderly lady. And he described it’s features with the pride of a show winning dog owner. He visited us a few times with laminated options and spiral bound charts. His full case packed with the trinkets of someone enjoying their work and we smiled at his delight, for the salt tablets that he turned in his hands with undisguised pleasure. He always wore that tie, slightly too short, slightly too thick a weave, a blue that announced itself as he ambled up our path with his aimable, helpful air.
I remember our chats as he became an infrequent visitor, servicing the slimline creature that lived at the side of the sink. He always had a tale to tell, a good natured anecdote about some customer event. He always gave more than was asked, jiggled appointments to seamlessly remove and re pipe in the beast after we moved here. He ran his small company through recession with the dedication of someone who’d got there without the expense of others. And we nattered and laughed as he plumbed and turned while I filled the cupboards and worked round the crates. And we joked about your DIY skills and were grateful for the magnets he screwed to the swinging cupboard doors. He had some in the van, it wasn’t problem.
And I’ve booked for him to come round on Friday to look at new models, alone, to find something that will fit the space and do it more efficiently. And I remember that he was widowed back before we knew him and I remember his son was 15 and he talked about his wife as he tightened our taps and I told you in the evening. 
I have a feeling he knows as I’d referred  his services to Mum and Dad and I heard his tone at the end of the line, months back, salt ordering, but neither of us said the words.
And on Friday he’ll be in our kitchen and on Friday I’ll go back in time.

Friday

Waiting for him and his van of memories and his face that I haven’t seen for five years. Sitting with the anxiety. Today my Red Indian name is Stands and Waits,  oh God he’s here…

His glasses glinted in the sun as he climbed out and his cheery smile at the door told me he didn’t know. He grinned a big hand shake and asked how I am. I mumbled ambivalence. He carried his case into my kitchen, saying ‘family well?’

I explained as he leaned up my sink. It took a while to get to the purpose of the visit but I hauled it together enough to half listen to tales of dimensions and usage. I just went with the one that fitted best. Will it do the job? Where do I sign? And we returned to our connection and I heard our old life in his warm Hampshire drawl. He understood. He knew loss a few times over. His daughter (not a son, memory playing tricks on me) had entered this world herself and he would have known how to support her because of his own pain. And the conversation shifted as he explained himself. He pulled back from the carbon copy, put down the biro and said he sees the experience now as ‘The Builder, not The Destroyer’ and how it forced him to go within and after years he now looks out with new eyes.

I leaned up my oven, bookending him by my sink as this unremarkable man in logo-d top fell away, to open up and fill me with stories of gentle souls in Sri Lanka, of peasants without anything, beaming through joy, rose crystal rivers, a natural source of pure pink water, blushing the lanscape in India’s teardrop. And his energy bounced off the units, a wisdom hidden in his simple frame, messages learned and passed down through generations of pain and growth. 
And two hours later we joked on his way out ‘Oh yeah, and by the way I’ll have a water softener’ and he shook my hand, thought better of it and hugged me and it wasn’t what you’d normally expect from a man in a van dressed in blue. But it was right and it was good. 
He told me he gets moaned at for not having a big business by now, but it’s not what it’s about. It’s a means to an end for him ‘it’s just what I do on my journey’…
And as he crosses the threshold he seems to morph back into the job and makes some cheery comment about kids at school and I smile at his back, closing the door.

I anticipated the memories and the pain. I booked the installation for a later key date free week but I wasn’t prepared for this. The connection and deep knowledge that he bought. You’d have found him fascinating, you’d have talked to him for hours, but we wouldn’t have known that side of him then because he only came out today, in my new place. This morning, in my kitchen, crammed with the old and new world, with an older face and his words that hang around me now like the limescale in my kettle.
Feeling the thin, trickled stream that leads back to our first river, all those moments ago when I used yellow pages to find him.

Our Mr Blue Tie
And he came back today
With all that he bought
Making the links
Journeys crossing paths

Though he doesn’t wear the tie anymore.

October 5th
I’m up here out of the way while he kneels on his ivy green towel. Not a chatty job this time, all these years later, I leave him to it, I don’t need to see. Need to write.
And he calls me down with an unexpected question. Where did I want the old one leaving as it’s not something he can take away and it’s there unplugged, out of place, emptied, just a shell. I can’t really look at it and mumble something about the garage. I’ll do it later, something else to edge outside, to rest there as a symbol while the work continues in a different shape, it’s essence remaining.
And as the mysterious gurgling sets in downstairs I review my earlier finds from the cupboard clearing. I’d whizzed what I needed to, the cleaning products, now migrants on my worktop but the corner’s hoard threw me. The surplus cupboard creaked out it’s hidden wares, the shoved in ephemera kept for different reasons from the days when I had a choice about endings. And out they tumbled the tablecloths creased in newness, barely used plans from our first home, party napkins, every year a different theme, the last present from Adam in the days when his mum knew what to say to me, the bumble bee coasters, wedding gifts from Diane. And I reach in further, feeling round like helping to birth a calf and in my rush gush of memories, free up pork not beef, with our pig place mats. Just two of them from pre parenthood meals, fat, distorted, distended creatures, naive art you weren’t quite sure about but they were ok with a plate of food on top. And the ever ubiquitous bubble liquid, a dribble of plastic letter cutters, hotchpotch of fish bits, rubber tubed syphoning from our attempt to keep pets and a mug tree Christmas present from your Dad in the days when he spoke to us. Bits of your old life, some wine cooler that preceded me and the sandwich maker I couldn’t bond with, bagged up for then and now. Bits of mine, mix and matched mugs for our son to role play out, fragments of our world and the last two things amongst the dust and plastic lids: a bubble wand, an unlit birthday candle. I study them for a second, their frozen potential, rediscovered, still able to become.

And he calls me again in his broad Hampshire hog, all done and 
I head for the stairs.
His delight is back as he explains the  
new toy, I like the blue light but I’m not really listening. He tells me the old one is now light enough for the wheelie bin but I doubt I’ll manage that, not just yet.

And we both feel unsure whether to hug again, but this visit was business like, it wasn’t appropriate today. Last time was for sharing, today was for the job. 
And he says goodbye with his warm wide smile and I watch from the window as he beetles off in the van, another traveller who plumbed into our world. 

He leaves with a part of our history, he turns the corner, eyes on the road ahead. Like me.

I miss his blue tie.
X

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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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