Archives for posts with tag: the force

Round about now I hit my iceberg and all the thoughts and plans and dreams tumble and slide across the deck. I realise everything was as it should have been and this is all wrong, so very wrong. And I remember their screams as we sat in the front row and we weren’t married and we made comparisons and you had something in your eye,  remember? And we watched as the tar black night pulled in closer and felt the icy memories stroking away what we had. And I’ve been avoiding the posters and the news footage because it takes me back. Not just to them, in all their finery and the countless families living this life, but to us at the beginning. Organising ephemera in our new home and we just popped out for the evening, like you did when everything was new and you weren’t crawling through anxiety, breathing through the minutes that would get you away from the day and to bed.

It became part of our relationship folklore, that film, that moment, that life back then and occasionally we would remember it.

Last week I ventured out in to the real world and packed up my grief to take our son to London, and the trees were out in blossom in the walkway but they were only saplings when we visited before and our toddler played on the steps as we waited for my friend. And it was a birthday surprise for me, but the wheel wasn’t working so we did something else and nothing really mattered. But last week I bustled and shoved my way past the same spot, wondering if our son’s memories would crash into his day as they scraped alongside mine and I thought I’d negotiated my way through their waters, despite the waves picking up a swell when we moored home later.


I woke into whiteness, cold endless whiteness on the date I remembered the long distance wedding guests had started to book in and hang clothes. But they’re not here now and I wake to the screaming confusion, the disorientation as my gaily coloured life slides across the table in front of me, just like the glasses on that pure cotton table cloth on our extra special holiday, back then when I was worried about the captain’s message. But the seasoned travellers reassured us, like you tried to reassure me and our son over night as the heavy metal banging smashed and creaked at us and we held onto the sides of the bed as we touched the edge of the storm. And you wrote in your book on the page with the Ancient Mariner’s quote and wondered what horrors awaited you at work on our return.  But there was no albatross for you, he was waiting, biding his time, before flying straight at me and I remember the frivolous sailing, the freedom of people away from real life, when just for an hour, or a smile or a week, they could forget, and pretend that this was their world, that the top ups were always free and the limitless buffet was as their life should be, all laid out on a platter, beautifully presently and sizzling at them, eager and plentiful. And they played and they laughed and they drank and there was no pain or anguish, no reality to scrape deep inside them and carve out a wound that changes them irrevocably.

And we waved and smiled and laughed as our hair was blown backwards and we put life on hold as we swayed out of port. And now it’s too late.  My ears burn numb from screaming voices, my terror is stuck in my throat, the night has smashed into me. My tables are broken against walls. crashing, sliding into oblivion. They are all around me, every passenger a memory of a life bobbing along, steering through storms, learning to get my sea legs and becoming a competent sailor. But now it’s too late, the ice has torn into my stern, we jump with no hope, breathless from the icy impact. Black coldness grabbing at my legs, broken wailing, layers of consciousness pulling me down, clawing for wreckage, kicking, panicked through blackness, searching, reaching, finding slimy wood. Waiting to wake but I can’t. Splashing, thrashing, flailing at the reality, trying to hit out, smash down on the oozing denseness around me. This has not happened, this is not real. I want to scream until my jaw locks, until there’s no voice left, until I gag on all that’s around me and when I wake I’ll be on board, glinting into the sunlight. But I can’t stop the memories grasping at me, calling me further in and downward, swirling me round and around. The horror, the wood, the noise,  make it stop, I want it back, I want this over, I want it all back. I can’t breathe. I can’t swim. They’re all around me, panicking into beyond.

Why do I bother to pull myself onto the wood, to lie crushed, drenched, empty, only breathing, just looking back at my life? 

Day light brings no end to the misery, just fewer voices as I look around at the carnage, the bits of my world floating by, popping up covered in algae, unrecognisable for a moment. I pull the weed from them and study their form, I remember them when they were shiny and new, when they weren’t memories –  just moments. I look back at her silhouetted, broken against the skyline, like some huge, snared, injured animal, too heavy and awkward to right itself. And I’m too exhausted to cry. I just lie and wait and think and feel for me and my world and their worlds back then. Ripped apart, sucked under like mine, surrounded by debris, to be picked through, to make sense of, to piece together. And I think of people I never knew from a life I can’t conceive of and I feel for them across the years and I ache with the pain that connects us, with an understanding that can only be experienced not taught.

And I see us walking out of the cinema on a cold February night, thousands of years before the month gained it’s meaning. And I sit here on my driftwood, floating in the dim mornings salvage. Alone but connected beyond all I know, clinging on despite splinters I can’t feel and shards buried deep in sinew that cause me no distraction.

I look out at the water – black, icy, laping its whispers towards me.

I sit

I breathe

I float

I wait


P.S – Monday, first thing

This is more like it. It’s cold rain and I’m not quite dressed for it. Can’t work out whether to hurry through and untangle this at home or let it take its course and drip back through it carefully. I never quite click into this world. I’m still on top, resting, with butterfly weight on its soft branches, just outside of it all, drifting through moments of clarity.  My ripped, furred wings still stuck together with the gloop of the cocoon clumped onto my back. Fragile, perched, hanging on for the sun.  

No familiar faces yet, no movement over my bridge, no one to check in with. Better go – hill calling.

And I glance at our road south where we turned so many revolutions before we knew it’s significance. And they’re coming late today. They arrive with their perfect quotes as the rain gets heavier and for a moments soaking I laugh through it all and I hear us together from a time before the clocks stopped.  So I stay for a while at my wet table, the Tao bird muck’s washed away. It all looks varnished by the rain, glossed over like the things we choose to avoid. And I sit in it, through the remembering, the weekends memories and where they are about to take me. And I can’t really see through the mizzle but know I have to go home soon, to get everything out and look at it, to understand and revisit, because it’s calling me like you did back then, late at night while the house was silent and I got up to take the call.

I can hardly see the screen for raindrops, the tiny rainbowed spheres persisting, showing wavelengths of joy beyond the present tense.

Back home

And sometimes when it comes back it’s so welcome. I slip into it like battered worn out slippers that hug the contours of your feet, that know every inch of your soul as I flail around in familiar pain. And I curl into the cushion – and I’m waiting for the throb in my temples and it hurts and the pain is Good. And I scrabble around for images and moments, flashes of a life gone by and they dance around and tease me until one drops into place heavily, deep  inside. And as it lands my shields fall willingly and the horror comes back, just for a moment, for a second or two and the panic pulls at my arm, spinning me out of control and I shout helpless protesting at reality. And if I shout loud enough the universe can’t take it and it shatters and gives up the game and everything crumbles around me until the dust settles and I find I’m back in my old life, in the old world, displaced and disoriented by the shift in consciousness.

But despite the force of my voice, the echoing depths from which I drag it, the surging energy of a lifetime with which I hurl it outwards, I still can’t break the illusion.

I crawl back out of the cushion, bewildered and spent,

And approach the day.

Another moment to experience in this illusion we call reality.



The church yard was in full bloom and I chose lilies because I always liked them.

Stargazers, flamboyant, delicately confident, pink red and white. With their swirling energy masking vulnerability. The delicate tissue velvet petals that would dance out there for a while then cry in your vase, losing their structure, the stamens bold, heavy drenched with pollen, drooping, giving in later to let go and stain the table.

And Lily was Mum’s sister who I knew for seven years and she was good and she was kind and she was smiley. And I like my cycles and symbolism so I chose lilies because it tied up the threads of my life before. And the florist thought ahead and cut the stamens out because they knew with the bustle of the day that they’d wilt and stain the dress and I didn’t notice at all until it was pointed out as they poured over the photos much later. And on that buzzing, tingling morning with me half dressed in silk, I wafted about waiting for my friend to arrive. My old school friend who I’d known forever making the long drive south with her children safely packed off by the seaside, so she and her husband could help. Him, ushering and placing and her supporting and easing as I assembled myself into the realms of ivory. And she strapped me in carefully, tightly closing velvet before the doorbell rang and he carried in the flowers for me and lay them all boxed on the kitchen floor. And I rustled in, pushed my way through the scent, the home dense with perfume, swollen with potential and the colours were ripe and verdant, plump and ready to sing out as we passed by.

And we passed by and up into the dimmed, musty, hushed waiting air and I held them resting on me as I looked at him. And after when my heartbeat slowed down we turned left and out into the calling light and I held them up high, one handed for the crowd, like a glistening trophy after ninety minutes slogging it out and a weary climb up the back slapping steps. Then in the car with the laughing slapstick of manoeuvring and sitting down and I still held on through the poses and clicking, face aching smiles, high up on the bank with the daffodils out in front of the cathedral. Someone must have collected them when we went inside, whisked them away like I was later, to be kept cool, to retain their beauty, to be looked after and carefully arranged. And we had chosen the design beforehand, weeks earlier on the industrial estate in the back of beyond. And they would freeze my moment and hold it forever and the owners kitten tightroped gingerly across the mantlepiece which seemed out of place in the sparse unit. So we signed and we paid and entrusted and they removed confetti and picked it all apart before the wilting took over, while we found the high air too thin but climbed anyway and looked out over whiteness, away and above it all, in the cold brightness of all that lay ahead.

We collected it on our return and hung it in the bedroom, flattened but saved as it looked on the day. And the light reflective glass would hide the petals from the sun and it would freeze time for a while and look back at me. And it still hangs there now but over the years the photons have beaten the glass and time peeled away the colours although the dress fabric beneath looks the same. The vulnerability of ageing, its irrepressible force of nature, its inability to stand still, to aim for permanence where all is transitory, even the mountains change shape, back there where we stood while petals were glued into place. Long after I’ve gone from this body there will be movement there also, a shifting of matter at a rate we can’t see, motion, of all that we understand in our time based turning world. Everything changing imperceptibly, necessarily with nature.

And even last January not long before the lights went out, when everything was still in place in the old world, I noticed my bouquet had altered. Peering out at me through the wave lengths, the colours softened, the fragile tissued papered skin of an old alpine villager, sun-baked from working the fields her whole life, tending crops because it feeds the children, turning the soil when your back breaks because nature drives you to do it and go hungry when the rains come because that’s just how it is. Living in harmony with a force you dance to, following its path, its rhythms, its music over eons, deeper truths than we can reach but hanging on and moving with it because it’s pure, it’s Good, it’s Tao.

And so my old women behind the glass crinkles a knowing smile back at me.

Time beat us both in the end but through the brittle veins, the stripped out hues, this new subtle palette has a different beauty, it still pulses and dances deep inside on a level we can’t understand. And she’s still there swishing and spinning, twirling through her moment, our moment, this crazy whirling girl of brightly coloured petals, vibrant, showy, knowing, laughing, joyful and free, bunched into a shape to be held for while, for a purpose until the purpose changed and the rhythms changed and the music altered,

but the girl and flowers still dance,

then and now

for him

for our son

for herself

For always


This morning: Preparation

I watch him from by the tree as the pidgeon borders him from above. It’s earlier than normal but I need it. I need the pouring rain but it’s not quite hard enough yet. The leaves have pushed themselves out since I was last here, the rain drips down the back of my neck and off their sap rich glossiness and as the wheels brush by with a soft familiarity it all looks subtly different. The fortnights break from routine, the spring warmth and eager rain has lifted my landscape. But just as I turn for the bridge I’m reminded of a much earlier walk and I freeze for a moment, wrapped in layers of grief with acres of loss swirling round my ankles and I step out and towards the other side, back in time as water drops absent mindedly to the road beneath.

I won’t stay long, a mellowed corner of rape has sneaked into the picture, full of promise for the months ahead. I sit on this sodden wood, not quite ready to go, not really wanting to stay. I’m abstracted from it all, the smokey washed layers of cloud, not quite bothering to clear, the rain in the distance over someone else’s life. And Bailey passes by me but the ground holds more interest than my knees today. He’s wrapped up in his red coat, protecting the fur but he should be running free, soaked to the skin, beaming with joy, careless to the pain like I wish to be. But he snuffles and patters off as I sit bunched up in my parka.

Hoping the gentle rain picks up speed. Another wash of grey, heavier now slowing blowing a steady procession over the trees to my left. In my memory the doorbell is due to ring, they’re here to help.

I need to go back now, to be consumed.

I glance at the table on turning,

today even the bird muck is a Tao symbol.


Back in the coal-grey grim fathoms of November my kitchen light started to play up, flickering, being temperamental and then just not bothering to come on at all. At first I thought it was “a sign”. Like many of us in this new world I’m always on the look out for something symbolic, some other worldliness cutting through. Like the collection of feathers that have built up on my windowsill over the months. I now have nearly enough for my very own pidgeon. Or the bizarre tickling on my upper arm that wouldn’t go away. It distracted me from my typing, puzzled, annoyed and finally irritated me so much that I had to investigate. But when I freed my arm from the sleeve, something  dropped. I located it on the floor and it turned out to be, not a sign at all, but some creature that would make an entomologists day, way too green and more appendages than I had time to count.  For a sluggish and  disappointed widow I still managed to move like stink.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen, the light that wouldn’t light became symbolic of my new world. I would think about getting it fixed but it wasn’t high up enough on my list. A helpful friend sent me a new starter motor to save me scuttling around hardware shops not really knowing what I was doing and another friend hauled himself away from toddlers tea time, arriving with his best sullen electrician face to reach up and mend the problem.

But it made no difference, the motor wasn’t the problem, so I ventured out to buy a new tube. I somehow bought it on the same day as we were making the Christmas lanterns (as in the earlier post Lighting the Way) and slapsticked ourselves onto the bus; one tired child, two delicate willow constructions, one delicate overbrimming grief and a 6 foot fluorescent bulb. Earlier friend returned with similar jokes to find the new shoe didn’t fit and I was not going to the ball under any circumstances.

I gave up for a while, it was too difficult. I had to find an electrician who could A. do the job, B. be prepared to do the job, C. not rip me off and D. not make any reference to my husband. The first three proved tricky enough and I knew even if I got that far that D was a given and would be my undoing.

It was all too hard as I unravelled towards Christmas so I continued to give up. It was a solution in itself. It was too complicated to think about so I simply didn’t think about it. Ten months into widowhood I’d grown accustomed to darkness and part of me felt very at home struggling around in the lack of light. It became a game with myself. Just how long could I last before I was provoked into finally fixing it? I factored in health and safety issues, of course, and anything that needed to be peeled, sliced or diced was done in the late afternoon daylight. Not that there’s been much food preparation going on. A good day then was finding a well stocked freezer, or at least one that wasn’t so iced up that I couldn’t get to the ubiquitous fish fingers. So none of my own fingers were cut or hacked off in the making of this blog but the days ticked into weeks and I was still slothing around as the festive circus descended around me.

Our friend helpfully pointed out that until a kitchen floor has its own eco system you really have nothing to worry about hygiene-wise.  Crumbs never hurts anyone, the odd insect can amuse a bored child but it’s not until the insect becomes the prey that you are really pushed into finding the dustpan and brush and summoning up help from Mr Muscle.

And through the dingy evenings I continued to count the tiles over the cooker. There are twenty. I learned this during the experience of marking days and then weeks as I warmed myself against the appliance, staring at the wall, mentally ticking off time, out of some misplaced survivalist instinct. The tiles became my prison wall, invisibly etched crossings as the hours moved past me and now in the shadows the squares become months and I’m over half way up them. So I peer at the tiles and remember when they were lit but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. So I count and I cross and I cook in darkness.

And so it continued, every day late afternoon dropped on us and my light was stripped away just like the ripping out last February. I stubbornly carried on cooking by the vagueness of the hall light and by Christmas had the added gaiety of my son’s fairy lights around the serving hatch. Little balls of white reflected in my black bottles of red. I challenged myself to secure the services of some suitable tradesman before the New Year announced itself. It felt fitting and a symbolic start to what would be, for others in the old world, a brand new place.

But the days weighted me down and squashed me into the floor along with my party-sized snack rolls. Movement was imperceptible.  Gradually even I was getting bored with the gloom but my inner gloom continued to have the more dominant voice. And so the grimness was part of my evening routine until the approaching First Year Anniversary gave me a final shove towards motivation.

So, with teeth gritted at the start of Year Two, I entrusted the process to the chirpy chatty twosome I’d found in the local paper.

They arrived late. My anxiety swirling and creeping higher as the minutes cluncked by until they rolled up.

I kept well out of the way as they took the old light down and avoided looking at it while I paid. I switched it on privately after they’d left and looked up.  The shiny halogen beaming out highlighted the dark corners of everything and underneath the brushed steel newness remained the ripped out shape of where the old light had been. An empty chasm  in the shape of what was once there, marking its space, its well deserved territory, showing up the edges of the paint, the time coloured ceiling and the naked wood beneath.

I appreciated the contrast. The simple plain long strip under the showy shiny chrome prima dona. The separate movable bulbs, variable, flexible, changing the direction they light. Being what they are, turned necessarily outwards, doing the same but job in a different way,  an antithesis to the sturdy trusty simple fluorescent.

I cry in the brightness, I miss the fluorescence and the life it illuminated but I’m under a new light now, in a new world. The old fixture is by the door heading for the garage but the space it filled is still there. And one day the ceiling may be repainted but the memory of the fitting will stay, as will the family it lit and although the shape has changed, having vitally evolved into a new way, it still transmits its force. The electricity that served the old bulb still powers the new ones and though on the surface it looks very different, at heart it is still Light over me and our son, in our kitchen, in our home, surging through the wires, pulsing through the foundation, up through the fittings and out to shine over our life.

There is change, there is constancy,

there is energy, there is force around us.

I raise a glass to my new light.

For the first time in months I can see what I’m doing.

Shine On


She encouraged them both to dig the garden as a competition, under the tree he loved that grew and flowed over the cared for lawn, behind their home before everything changed when he sat down next to him on his small bed. And the years of conkers and bike rides were stripped back with the bark and the tree was left alone, untended unheard. And she cried in the new home by the bottom of the yard where the hydrangea persisted despite its concrete glove. And much further away the branches still hung over the water reflecting a garden that belonged to someone else.

But he could always be found near water like his tree and his gardens shifted over the years from alleyways with student bins to squares of territory tucked round the back, to a courtyard and too tightly pruned roses. Before somewhere to sit and be and study things moving in the sunlight and she was always there overhanging in the background, invisible but present.

And now my hydrangea has gone back to earth, one bloom crunchily faded like a collection of cocoons, if I touch them they will fall away so I pull apart around it, tug of war the bindweed that’s stealthed it’s path over the year. The willow stars we made have settled and found their place while the bindweed ties maypole ribbons around them.

She’d watch him carefully in the morning with her spirited silence and when her last garden became irrelevant she forgot for a while. And the branches grew and wrapped themselves tightly around us all weaving and interlocking over time and distance, through space and memory, beyond and outside of what we could see, unbounded by what we perceive, unharnessed, unrestrained by the transient limitations of our senses.

And the roots go deep, channelling intent into the earth for sustenance and life, to anchor the moment to form the backdrop of a family. And they drink from the soil and convert from the light and the cycle continues, silently forging and moving.

She always loved trees, he knew I did too. She looked out on the garden that she loved and cried for the tree and the tree cried back.

Her loss. His loss.

My loss now

And she sat with me somehow

And I sat tall and stiff, upright like her tree, staring emptily into the middle distance and out there somewhere through the brightly coloured glass to a point in space and time where I didn’t exist and the reality was not what I sensed around me.

And I chose bamboo from the East and from our garden

And I chose willow because.

And now I’ve bought willow for our garden

To forge it’s roots deep and strong while he grows, to bend in the wind when it batters the house, to sway without resistance, to ease out new leaves, to nurture and protect. To give shelter.

Her job. His job.

My job now

I sit by willow


8.50 a.m – This morning

Back in the womb, deep in the mist where we used to live, when we used to live. I can smell the wood today, damp fresh good. Birds go up a gear and I’m barely holding on and I know why. Familiarity on the breeze, not sure if it’s coming my way.

Why are they so loud don’t they know what day it is?

I could be anywhere looking out, I’m not part of this landscape, it goes on around me. I could be looking out from a thousand different places. Their bubble of laughter breaking out of the distance while my carcass is held up by the picnic table.

What would you bring to this table ?

Ignore the chinking of dog collars.

Some gaily coloured plastic cloth, gingham checks from a world of ginger beer, mucky knees with mothers apron tied behind her at the high white sink. And you played on the scrubbed lino with hard plastic animals that came inside the biscuit packet. And the coal bunker stood its ground at the back of the bungalow where you used to lose the high bounce balls, all too frequently somewhere in the rockery and you love the swirls of colour on the firm formed rubber and your hair was a thick pony tail. And the front lawn went on forever and it was always late summer and we decorated prams with tissue paper for a charity push to nowhere. And we sat in the park with friends and bought Walls Funny Faces from the old ice-cream van man. And picnics were time to stop, to take it outside, to be together, to tear bread and watch.

And now I observe without a tablecloth.

No currant buns or cloudy lemonade, just the cold planed grain supporting my hands, the persistence of time and if I stare hard enough into the mist it takes the downland to the Alps from way back then. The unsteady magpie bouncing the phone wire, a second one on the ground, ungainly old man pecking. The late winter chill that means nothing to me, that has no power.

And they sit somewhere in their childhood, in their freedom behind the settee under the old model of a viking ship.

And they will travel

And they will become

And their journeys took their course

And they merged

And they moved

And they separated on the surface

And I still travel for a while, with his beacon, with his gift from back then.

And I came to this table

And we’re here without a cloth

I sit and watch


A collie smiles up to me with a dribbled ball in his mouth. I stroke his head and leave.



In the other universe I went into reception class and helped out because they were one member of staff down. While he got through the dreaded tribunal and typically did a fantastic job although he unpicked it later and beat himself up about some of the elements.

And in the spring the fear of redundancy came nearer and we lost many hours to the worry and worked through innumerable plans and options. But we ploughed on, created contingencies and battled our way through the stress.

And we continued to be puzzled by the leak in the car and still didn’t get to the bottom of it.

And redundancy was escaped this time round but it was only a matter of time with new clouds never that far away.

And he struggled with the piano music for his birthday. We knew it was beyond him and our son but it had to be bought and they had to try. And the connection with his Mum ran through the scores and surrounded them both when they played.

And the summer was peppered with days out making way for the late holiday in Northumbria. And we cheered loudly at the experience when the voucher was redeemed. And he cheered when our son learned to swim and was so proud as he took to the blues. And in assembly only we knew the significance of the piece he’d chosen.

And he disbelieved with me that Year 6 had arrived. And he grilled the Heads in his special way as we chose the next school for our son. We settled on our first choice anyway and talked about the next phase. And we wondered how it would be when he started secondary and we watched him growing up and away.

And the in-law issues took their familiar course and Christmas was negotiated as usual.

And we teased him over the approaching big birthday and he implied, with no subtlty, that it should be like the 40th and between me and our son we did a great job.

And everything ticked along under a normal sky with all the ephemera and mundane minutia of a life lived in a real lane. And we continued to make plans like you did and we thought of the future and how it would be. And we worried about things that may never happen and normality stretched out in front of us in an endlessly comfortable comforting road, well trodden, signposted and safe.

And tonight I tried to find something to cook, glad it was half term with days off. And we needed to use the days well and had something planned for tomorrow.

And there was ordinary, there was usual, there was life, there was us, there was family, there was growth, there was time.

In this other Eden
there was all of it
nettles you could roll in

his rainless painless sky

Everything, our world

In the other universe
where he didn’t wake me in the middle of the night



The unrelenting sun refracts itself in pinpoints on the hard black shiny beads. Cushioned coal in the toy elephants face. The universe in his mum’s ring pulls me in deeper showing colours we can’t understand. The nap separates into spaces in the uncompromising light, microscopic chasms, losing myself in the fur. I can’t look it in the eye I can only watch the reflection calling me, but as the flashbacks trip and ambush me I drop away from here to there in the photons that hold the connection.

The shadow edges over the back of my hand, the sun warms the side of my face as our son calls up the stairs.


Avalanche nature’s force

Surging energy batters

New shoots underneath