Archives for posts with tag: the force

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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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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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Saturday October 20th, early.

Stood here with cold air dribbling in on my toes, looking out into this odd place of history and newness. Dinosaur carcasses barricade me in and the day peels slowly under a heavy soft grey. The approaching unseen howl of engines, unknown in this white out, some break through and roar into my mirage, eaten by the metal landscape. My life is a Herzog film.
And as they threaten again but come to nothing I consider yesterday and our day ahead.
The easiest way is that it’s just not real. I’m not preparing to take our son over there to meet your hero, we can’t possibly be about to stand next to the actors you watched together, shared moments with and laughter over and I teased you because you insisted it was a documentary and totally believable despite polystyrene to the contrary. And yesterday he didn’t really shake hands with an omnipotent being who chatted and smiled amongst the hoards grappling for their moment.
And although none of it could have happened, our son was beaming at the prospect and had it have been real we would have managed the masses, the lights and the queues. And now my thoughts are broken by engine din ripping through and I watch it fly overhead with the wonder of a country girl, as though I’d never ventured to the big city before. But I’ve lived in towns most of my life, why is this all so surreal, so distorted and I keep waiting for you to come out of the bathroom because the room is very similar to all those other places but it’s not there, back then, it’s here on this other planet and the room is slightly Japanese and you’d have really like that and I do, as I wait for our son to wake. And I sip my hot earl grey and consider how to manage this long day. I still can’t get it, you know. Maybe I’m drawn to the movement of the place, the relentless energy, a purpose I’m trying to hack into. I don’t know.

The morning’s building up, a town starting over. Abstracted dog barks, solitary man stands by the railings, looks out to something he can’t see, wanders off with hand deep pockets and I want to cry but can’t quite, not now, stuff to do. Going to beam down soon with my away mission, making it safe for our small party on this strange hostilely appealing planet. The aliens are moving in down there, thick and fast, need to check my tricorder and go.
Another bizarre moment of being in this imaginary world.

And later,

just about survived the hoards and moments, the challenge of finding the right place and time and ticket and managing our sons needs and strop with my gossamer thin exterior against the desire to stand there, drop bags and scream. Surveyed the mix of the dedicated, interested, obsessed and good natured but struck with the disease of celebrity, their search for meaning, the exhaulted ivory tower, living a life through something else. But is it wrong if it makes them happy for a moment? Living out life in proxy, needing to connect, to belong, to be part of something bigger, all here in a big white cage on the edge of redundant docks.

Sunday 21st, earlier

Leaning up window in blackness. The coldness on my forehead and nose slightly comforting as my breath obscures the view. Without my glasses the lightscape dances and sprays with fractured patterns of neon, glowing emptily while some sleep. The horizon peppered orange, outside of my feelings. A beautiful band of unseen candles, lined and lit for anyone who cares to look. And it takes me back to New York and that holiday and I can’t go there, can’t get into that memory, not now. Keep moving like this place beneath me.
Better get ready, I suppose, lost in alienation as the dawn forces into the night.

I watch them. The Suits, standing nearby, handling their charge like fine china, looking out, scanning the crowds for things to fend off. Thousands focussed on a moment, their own seconds, their dinner party chat about the look, the laugh, their little snatched piece, their prize and we both had our own. Our son’s interaction and the Captains comment back to him, and mine? I managed to tread on his foot… You know who. And I keep our moments locked away, our timeless treasures queued for, held hands for, pushed through hot fans for, to fill his room with memories as we seek out our new life, ourselves in this new generation of being.

And on the way back, in the dark, in the raindrops, in the spangled glowing neon, passed old places of my childhood and flashing familiar signs, it came back to me, in all it’s screaming ceremony. It caught up with me and the windscreen wipers had little impact on the force and I dug my nails in hard and deep to try to stop the pain.

xxx

November 15th, in silence

The heating creaking through un bled metal, the clock beats in time with my cursor, under it all my elbow pushes into the space beneath my chin, my head leaning into palm, the sofa warm up my back. My nose stuffed, eyes sore, my hair wisps in front, head shoved against hand against arm of settee against the throw. I study terracotta, looks brown from this angle, in this light, shadows under tiny tufts, darkness over light, rows of waved patterns marching slowly above the new calico I’ve folded myself into. Back starting to hurt, shoulder reminding me this isn’t a good position, the deep blue hair band an accidental bracelet on my wrist, hair down, irrelevant.
My rings flash a moments warm gilt in the subdued fabrics, ears ringing, tummy reminding me there’s been little food recently, nail clicking on the screen. I like the smoothness, the neutral temperature of this hard edged glass, this touch sensitive life.
Ribs will pay back later, aeroplane soft faded hum over my morning.
Half drawn tree shapes out there, gentle beyond the curtains, a wiped out November, shaken, quiet.

I push tip myself up,
approaching kettle.

Make it so

X

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I can’t get it, can’t think, can’t feel, lying in the grey milky nothingness, poking at the wounds, wanting to tear in deeper till the pain makes me pass out, like I did back then. And the timeline’s all muddled, three layers of games playing round my head as I look through your old curtains, tired and pointless, them and me. String theory flowers, rippled water marks, encoded circles buzzing a language I can’t hear. How old is the thread that machined out this pattern? This place of fabric that hung at the front of our world? We inherited it with the moving in, someone else’s choice that we never quite erased, scrunched up, shoved in and abridged on the new shorter windows nearly nine years after the first home. I lie through it today, watch myself come and go between the weft, wanting to replay every second that passed infront of them as they hung silently in our life. I can’t catch it, can’t hold them, too many, too slippy, too loud, too quiet, a slipstream to nowhere. Wanting to lose myself in their mess but I’m too empty, too voided, struck out, cast off, dispatched and detached. I hook myself on to the wavelengths, imagine myself a photon in this drizzled day, not wave, not particle but both and neither simultaneously as I move unseen in and out of the circles, weaving myself through something that feels like it’s there and I’m only the messenger, carrying light, passing through two places at the same time, my strange experiment in being, only a moment of physics, whatever moment means. 
My diaphragm  inflates out of habit, the only sign of shifting in my ennui. The radiators need bleeding, hear them creak their protest as I drift back with less urgency now, back to the drive up the motorway, waiting for the new keys, the empty rooms Pisa-towered with boxes and your pretend settee with no real redeeming features apart from not being the floor.
And I flail in the net, knocking scales of my battered body, gasping for memories trying to catch our world. Was any of it real, were we really back there, then in the walls that made us? It’s too slippery, I have to follow it’s nature, hold it briefly into focus before it eases through my fingers again out of sight, back to the pool it came from.
And my slight hunger reminds me I’m still here now and time continues to gnaw away at me. 
It’s all just numbers, an exotic language of the forms, just out there marking it’s self. Fifteen years since we opened that first can of worms, two years since our squally sailing round the bay and twenty months since the packing away of a way of being, a sliding down the bank into the mud at the edge of the river carried by your quotes to fish the big waters alone, where “all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. 
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. 
I am haunted by waters.” *

Remembering and reeling,
Reel me in.
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*Norman Maclean- A River Runs Through It

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Twelve years ago I couldn’t walk…
And this is where I came in, last year, this place and a stumbling newness of words. 
I’ve travelled through my unknown lands, a chaos, grappling through the forms. I continue to travel.
And now at 19 months from the event horizon, I drop away, unseen in a flat spin of memories.

Sept 11th 

Don’t know where this is going, lying dazed, approaching the birthday memories, the hours, images frozen outside of time. Week to go remembering my static life, my mornings dozing, finding a position without pain and your sandwiches left in the kitchen. My wooden brick tower, unstable, smooth and bright, clattered down recently with the reality of Secondary School seeping in. Opening up new areas of grief, new pain to look at, but not just now. Tidy the bricks into a pile, I’ll have another go later.

Sept 12th

My strangeness continues. Feel the tightness around my head, temples pulling. Miss the cold air, the early walks. Can’t drop him now but watch him from the window, Mrs Danvers as my Manderlay burns around me. Can’t remember if you’d watched that film now, it was on the list though, the one I’ve taken over. The book pile for me that I need to shake myself into. Stuck on the edge at the moment, decisions to take but can’t quite do it. Pulled towards it with an inescapable force but leaving it, tempting it, hanging on till last moment, before I take the steps I know I need to. Everything’s got bundled together, layers jumbled, jangling in my mind. Newness for our son, carrying his backpack of potential, just doing it because you have to, but doing it his way, our way. His birthday screeching up at me, things to do and be, someone in this time of years guise. All the things that will be done like I used to do, now same but different. And I flash to cake decorating in The Hours before the mother lost the plot and the toddler running after the car. I squeeze the phone tightly as the pressure builds in my head. It’s all coming at me today, cut up images, chopped up magazines of that world, glossy and slippy under my feet, over printed shouting fonts. Trying to tidy the thoughts but they keep falling around me and I can’t help stop and look. 
My day seems set in the 1950s, my buttoned up cardigan, shiny pearl circles, fast forwards to Mother at the sink. I’ve gone away to before the pain, playing on the big floor with the old radio by the chipped cream legs of the ironing board and the clips in my hair, oval hard plastic, pull it out of your eyes. And she has so much to do, that child to get to where I am now. I rub my forehead hard, the water drips down the side of my face as I get a text in the current moment.
Now under your light shade that I watched forever through the dark November when my back didn’t work after the place I’m building up to. The hours with our baby while you bought home the bacon. And back then, right now booked for inducing on Friday, waiting. Sitting still in the time before.

Sept 13th

Watching the light play with shapes on the curtain. Feint movements from the world outside, a broken fleck of sun draws down the side of my upvc. There’s a small distant drone under the sound of the blood in my ears. I bet the dog walkers are out en masse, I miss them, I must go back when I’m through this.
The shadow branch bounces in the obvious wind but I can’t hear it. Feel cornered like back then. Shoved into the edge of the settee, barricaded with cushions as we played Take the Brain and despite my pain induced lack of strategy, I still took you to the last piece. You beat me in the end, of course but I had a huge bag of pic ‘n’ mix to soften the moment. And now I’m up against it again but it’s a self created battle with myself. I know what I need to do but I’m still wrestling with the inevitable. Now and then waiting for the trigger, lying here in my broken clock.

Sept 14th

Watching the cursor flash as our son walks hurries down that road, think his friends were late today, he seemed to be rushing as I oversaw the process through our web covered window. He must be approaching the lights by now, just by that dark tree, that corner that I noticed as we hurried past in the Rover after early morning calls were made and I’d manoeuvred, judged and backed up somehow into the front seat. Up all night thinking today was the day and scared but focussed as we sped past School where our son will be turning left now. And the days and rooms lie ahead of me, the flock of faces at the end of the bed, the table on wheels and plastic food, the waiting, the conversations, the stabbing lack of sleep.
But in the present I have things to prepare. The familiar film runs in the background, know it so well. I flit in and out of it, looking at me, at us, seeing the pain but not quite feeling it. 
My head aches with this new phase, a mashed slop of messy memories stuck on the end of my spinning wheel. Pullling and easing, stripping and smoothing them through the contraption, weaving and binding them into a shawl for our baby. To wrap him up in it’s stories, swaddled in the narrative of who we’ve become. Right now I can’t move for wool, spiky, smelly, stuck up with bits of bark, too many shards to pull out before it becomes yarn. I’ll just stop, lie in it, feel it’s harshness, comforting in it’s complexity. I have little energy to weave, now as then, hanging on, driven by a primal force, to protect and nurture. Clinging on to see the job through to the end.

Sept 15th

Flipping between two hospitals, metres and years and lives apart. Inextricably there, day two, room three, ceilings and sounds stretching out, trapped down the wrong end of the telescope with disembodied feelings, detached above the beigeness. 
And 19 months ago. A dripping unreality, the inked in names on the bedding, the startling bright blue curtain on chrome, altered waiting. Baby pink crisp cotton of then immobilised in hope, wrapped around This Other, a terror of waiting. Lost in my little room, inching fingers through the days.   

Sept 16th

We tried to get a signal in the bathroom, up by the frosted window with the wire mesh crosshatched through it and I leaned up the wall near the end of my strength. Day three, weekend staff change, round we go again, more explaining and the night was wrung out like the day ahead, pitiful, minute moments peeling my resistance.
I lie flat now in the way I couldn’t then, so much to do today, prepare for tomorrow. for me and our son. Must shake off the imagery, turn it down and come back to the present. I look up and away, staring through the ceiling, my head thunders, storming layers of time.

Sept 17th

Don’t know where I am. Yesterdays hopes faded with the day easing me under the arms into their toffee vinyl chair. Sleep was a delusion in that empty hard cocoon, desperate, dependent, clinging to the Dawn. And you, helpful, helpless, riding alongside. The faces, decisions, bluster round my stillness and on my present bed I feel the instinct to sustain, in those grey isolations, a purpose carrying me through pain. 
And flip back now, it’s all in place, a newness tonight, a birthing out into another world. The Eve of something, then and now.

Sept 18th

And I’m slap bang back in it all, my drugged up whole five hours of sleep and I’m wired and I’m waiting. And you’re there in green and blue as our son walks now, to school, with his cough and rustled sweets for the masses. And my head drones on with last night while faces from that room back there hover and plan their campaign. Johnny V pops in the frame, do you remember him with his too black hair, his smoothness, his words and his news? Tucked, miles away in the corner of the room, tinkering, as I began my assault of the day. To the faceless cold hard hostile team I tried to haul my granite, lost deep inside, lying on my side with your fear as they chiseled into the mortar.
And my head beats with the tension between here and there, a whiteness, walls that come and go, a forced angle not fit for my spine. And before the fading takes over I smash myself up by The Other bed, as the other pain calls out and I don’t know which way is up anymore.
And in two different rooms, light-years apart, in both I fade into the loss. 

Numb.
And the hours stretched across the room, my stubborn strength till shove came to push. My early evening end game. Checkmate arrived with the hands of the clock, your words at my weak jokes. And the ceiling changed for the last time. My carefully taped tape, whale calling out through different lights. 
And the sounds and the colours. And the feelings and the heat.

Until, until

The moment, our moment
The holding, the look. 
The love.

Sept 19th

Twelve years ago.
Immobile. Breathing. Each breath for our son through six days that carved me into someone else. 

Until. 

The Second Carving. Six days that live with me in my void, just over there, on my shoulder. 
Both moments frozen in perfect pain, crystallised, distorted, bright and eager, hanging there, known and needed. I drop through my wormholes, flash flick into them, beyond time and space to my unwrapped evolution.

Two moments of permanence, happening now and a lifetime ago. Arcing over me, pulsing from me, feeding my identity, sustaining my growth.

A circle of pain, freezing me, forming me.

My parallel journeys merge into one through love.

This gift of pain
Then and now 
Being and becoming

Holding him. Still holding on,

as I walk.

X

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I’m just floating at the moment, feel I’m drifting lightly with the current, simply, purposelessly being carried. I see me bumping over ripples of water, a small stick with no direction. 

It’s been like this for a while, for this first termless week. Ambling through moments and I feel uneasy like there’s something waiting, something approaching, an inevitable trap and none of this is quite real. 

My finger taps faster as the thoughts and feelings are unlocked. I remember last summer and the constant nothingness of the settee. The late night sneaking to Sainsburys when the crowds and faces had gone. The steely preparation, the loin girding, the pretence coated determination to take our son away…

And then doing it. The saturating fear, the deep yet hollow pride, the choosing, the knowledge, the fight, the resolve, the drip feed strength that came from a natural instinct, to survive, to protect, to build, to heave against inertia.

We did it – we travelled at 6 months.

And in a couple of days we’ll do it again.
The feelings are back, similar shapes to before but now a fairytaled patchworked eiderdown, rich with ancient thread, silky weavings of half recognised pictures, appliquéd layers of days of grief, aged, loved edges  fretted smooth by anxiety, quilted memories dense with pain. I see me from above, shrink wrapped in images, swaddled in this time last year. 

This time last year the blanket was new, raw and rough to the touch, insistent, persistent, factory fresh colours bleeding all over my small white body. I clutched it, wore it, had no choice, hid inside, subdued submerged. Scared and shaking. 

I’m still covered now. The dye has stained my skin, the feelings imprinted on me, tattooed into my being. My stark cold cell with prison wire-wool bedding has morphed into a wood cutters cottage. The clanking steel bed, spine achingly stabbing into my tired muscles has grown into Grandma’s bed, narlded, chewed hardwood, hard work to climb into, deep and crisp and even the pillows patterns entangle themselves into my hair. It smells of ginger biscuits and warm wisdom and the bed fills the whole room, the whole house and the story itself.
I look down on my tiny curled up words, tightly balled under the thick eiderdown. I feel the fabric. Squares bartered for from distant bazaars, scraps found fusty in the backs of cupboards and specially chosen pieces, picked out for their own precious qualities. I see the image of the feelings, the timeless pain sewn in with love. Stitched in tears, embedded in the weft. Calloused fingertips from the dig of the needles, watching the deep hued yarn slip in, out and up, slowly encroaching over the fabric to form my coloured narrative.
 
I flip outside my cottaged world, neighbours voices push through the open window, an out of place anonymous whistling of a disturbingly happy worker and a grey soft stillness of a summer town after rain.

Back in my cottage I burrow down further, pulling the familiar close around me. I see the colours, feel the silk, know the pictures woven through grief.
 
Last year, this year.
Same experience, different shade.  Same loss, different shapes. 

Same story, different cover.
Different moment, same love.

I pull back up and out of the image. See the roof from above, the heat of colours inside diffuse out through the windows, casting a hazy warm light into the air. The red tiles fade to ochre, the chimmney chuggs out the pain until it smokes pencil swirls into the overhanging trees.
The knotted tangles of growth tighten their grip around my shack, the green turns to grey. I float higher till all I see is a wood. Dense, complex, matted with change, hiding me underneath, my place, my rooms and my bed. One heavy embroidered shield cloaking me, small with strength. I sleep under it all.

As I let go, up and away, the landscape falls back, slowly widening my view from the dark forest to the trickled silver river in the distance, the soft flowing water and its relentless rhythm. My focus shifts back to the stick, sodden, peeling, carried by the current. Drifting along with the force.

Our son stomps up the stairs engrossed in his own story
‘Powering engines – Now!’

I need to finish the packing. 
X

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The recent Fathers day was about our son writing his Star Trek post for you. But I couldn’t get your Dad out of my head and wondered how he felt only getting one card from his eldest son on that Sunday and did it cross his mind as he felt the sharp tear of paper cut across his fingers that he wasn’t getting two, that the other card, the safe, bland, difficult to find one, wouldn’t be up there on his dusty shelves next to the smiling photos of years of pretence. And did he give us a thought as he laughed with his eldest over some other in-joke, did he send us his thoughts through the ether? He certainly hasn’t sent thoughts through the many electronic ways he could communicate. He knows all our addresses and he even understands our new world himself, yet his silence is deafening.

Your Step Mum went quickly and it was our sons first time then for an ironed, starched shirt and I still can’t process the fact that three years later he’s worn the shirt twice more. Your Mums service was our lowest point, and our son sat between us with his small arms barely reaching around us both and we thought we knew pain. We worried for your Dad, losing both women from his life within eight weeks of each other and we made the calls and checked in with him and tried to bridge that gap, to understand, to reach out.

I’m not sure what I expected from him but I didn’t expect this.

Your Dad continues to be totally absent though in the world physically and while I lie here warm in the duvet listening to our sons steady breathing I feel a growing anger, a distilled mess of my disappointment wrapped up in your rage, your pain at the years of needing, searching, longing for the respect you deserved with every atom spinning inside you. And I remember our first visit and how I geared myself up for his ‘wit’ and wore a ‘meeting the parents’ outfit and curled my hair in the long mirror in your Mum’s bedroom. The bedroom with her little white door to the cupboard of treasures where you found the tiny Santa from your childhood and broke down in the days before it was my turn.
And in the afternoon you’d visited him while I poured over photos with your Mum and as usual you tried to talk to him, to aim to connect, a hope to reach him on that level and as usual made a little progress and we visited later and ate delicately arranged food. And he was in full effect and I was bating it all back, making them laugh, giving as good as I got and you knew I could take him on in my own way and you both liked it. And it was alright as I bought into the long standing issues and we dissected it all into the early hours and we were at the very start.
And the morning afterwards your Mum would quiz us on what happened and what had been said. Always needing reassurance because the second wife could cook and host and the house had doilies and rugs and a little gong to call us in for dinner. But it couldn’t have mattered less, it couldn’t have been more irrelevant, because she was where the love was, the unconditional understanding, immeasurably for you and not far behind for us.
And I couldn’t relate to it, all your issues were alien and strange. It wasn’t a pattern I’d grown up with. You’d already met my Dad, you saw the love, the always-there-ness of a way you craved and all the established visits on Fathers day because they were relatively local and we could. And in all the silliness of presents for Grandad you must have felt the loss of the relationship you sought so much but you focussed on your own job then, receiving your own carefully chosen or handmade card and some bit of nonsense that would get lost in the house. And the day was marked as you developed your softer punch down the years, as you became the dad you didn’t have.

Now I drift here surrounded by four fathers, yours who still brings out a rage in me, though I have to remember your last chat in the month before, when you stumbled to a reasonable place and shared the book that he quoted from one month later when our son wore the shirt again.
Mine, who has only ever been there, even when he wasn’t. Who has tried his best to support us though these months of hell despite the agony of not being able to make it better and who I just can’t visit on Fathers day because I can’t take our son into that environment of memories, to open cards that underline our pain, so for the second year avoidance was the way through. There’s not much I’ve avoided in this new world but to stay away then made the day more manageable.
And you’re the third father, finding your way, becoming the silly Daddy that only we saw and instilling in him a love of many things that are just showing through now. And now I come unstuck
and can’t find the words, can’t express the emotions triggered by remembered conversations and how you wouldn’t allow yourself to be like him and you were different and we knew it and I’ll make sure our son knows it in the years ahead. And it’s that bit, that part that I can’t compute, doing your part too for you but I can feel you, I can sense you guiding me.

I hold him carefully, filling him with a knowledge, a sense of love and respect and guide him through the love to find who he is growing into, in this world that neither of us knew. My Dad is with me, I’ve grown as an adult surrounded by love with him still there physically, you grew as an adult with your Dad there physically but absent in too many ways but our sons world is very different.
He has a new experience, one neither of us can relate to, he is growing up, growing into the loss, his sense of self is being carved out now, the man he will become is formed of these moments and a world without you physically. But god knows you hold him and encase in him in love at a level we can’t understand and as long as there’s breath in my body I will show him who you were and feed him the love and respect that you gave him without bounds. He will know a different level of love to the lives we lived through, he has a different journey and the years ahead and the love around will allow him to be who he needs to be.

And one day maybe, he’ll be the fourth father, as I hear him waking now on the day he’s going to write about Star Trek, because that helps us both and I think he understands its part of his grieving.
And one day he may take all that we have given him, assimilate the pain and joy and become a father too, feeling the thread that connects us all, imperceptibly, undeniably linking through the life and love he has known, becoming more than his experience, protected by the love that holds us close now.
And whoever he becomes, father or not, he will know, he will feel our pride, our respect, he will feel the love surround him.

There’s more to fatherhood than physical presence.
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