Sappho

I loved you, Atthis, years ago,
when my youth was still all flowers
and sighs, and you — you seemed to me
such a small ungainly girl.

Can you forget what happened before?

If so, then I’ll remind you how, while lying
beside me, you wove a garland of crocuses
which I then braided into strands of your hair.
And once, when you’d plaited a double necklace
from a hundred blooms, I tied it around
the swanning, sun-licked ring of your neck.
And on more than one occasion (there were two
of them, to be exact), while I looked on, too
silent with adoration to say your name,
you glazed your breasts and arms with oil.
No holy place existed without us then,
no woodland, no dance, no sound.

Beyond all hope, I prayed those timeless
days we spent might be made twice as long.

I prayed one word: I want.

Someone, I tell you, will remember us,
even in another time.

( https://public.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/mythology/sappho.html )

4 Years

On this day.
The clock stopped,
It read – 16.10
Such a sudden shock to the atmosphere,
It stopped time.

The day before.
A feeling,
It was 19.15
A jolt of realisation,
Calm acceptance.

The happiest of days,
All day until 18.00
A phone call,
Devastation.

Unnoticed

The bangs of the cannon can be heard from the walk up
A smell in the air that baffles my brain as it tries to place it
The canal, calm, as people walk and the taxi boat floats by
There is a plane up ahead; I wonder when it will be me up there looking down
Parents and children walk with tired intention
Another milestone achieved, silently unnoticed.
Even by me.

Anxiety is

Anxiety is: not catching your breath
Anxiety is: not wanting to move
Anxiety is: needing to move
Anxiety is: taking sugar in your tea, but not reaching over to lift it from the pot
Anxiety is: shaking so much that the whole world seems to move on its axis
Anxiety is: fingers placed in ears, on eyes, on neck
Anxiety is: digging nails into legs just to have something else to focus on
Anxiety is

 

One Day

You always told me, “One day…”
Trying in vain to prepare me for these days.

In the early days, I notice your hat is still there – I make a mental note to ask if I can keep it,
But then in the blink of an eye – it is gone.

I take your collection of ties without waiting for a better time,
Folding them up neatly in a bag.

I think of the sadness in your eyes whenever you spoke of a family who was long since gone,
Always preparing me for, “One day…”

I never expected ‘one day’ would feel like this,
Never imagined I would understand so accurately that sadness I saw within you.

Weeks later, we are standing outside our house,
We are all here, waiting.

Liz announces the arrival of the hearse with a deafening, “He’s here.”
Nic and I lose composure, eyes dropping immediately to our feet.

I sit in the funeral car, with your daughters – the magnitude of that moment hits hard,
I am the only grandchild in the car and I wonder, does that not speak volumes?

The house is empty,
I am showing prospective buyers around.

They want to change everything – strip it bare and start anew,
I want to drag them out but instead, I just remove myself.

“One day, I won’t be here anymore. You’ll be telling your grandchildren about me like I am telling you about mine.”

 

One Day

We had a conversation once, once.

Surrounded in a world where every single person was talking at me, loudly.

You spoke to me, calmly.

Of all the differences to be made, to me.

It was you who made one of the biggest, the loudest.

I heard you and I continue to hear you, always.

One day I plan to tell you, one day.

Trees

It is 1998, the house is warm – it smells like homemade pastries. Across the room, a family is gathered.
2 ft tall, green branches reach out.
“Do you want to place these chocolates on, sweetheart?” She asks with a soft smile.
They sit on the floor giving careful consideration of what gets placed where.

It is 2000, the house is happy – four friends sit together laughing. A knock on the door and a child joins them.
5 ft tall, green branches face the room.
“My mum says she can’t make it, the rabbit is sick.”  He tells the tree.
Confused looks are exchanged between friends, bafflement that will continue for many years.

It is 2017, the house is cosy – a family enjoy the peace. Love and laughter in their eyes as they observe their boy.
2 ft tall, green branches mock the cat.
“Don’t you dare!” She says, swooping him up with a ‘boop’ on the nose.
Content purrs surround the quiet room.

It is 2018, the house is silent.
5 ft tall, fibre optic lights brighten the room.

 

 

Immense

I had thought I was a nuisance,
An oddball,
The black sheep.

It took leaving,
A shot in the dark,
The result immense.

A letter sent out,
The response, “Do your best, it is all you can do.”
I felt my heart skip.

A phone call, later,
The words, “She says she loves hearing from you.”
I cry.

The letters continue,
A feeling so immense,
I had thought I was a nuisance…

 

Everywhere

There are carols
…everywhere.

There are trees,
with bows and bright, bright lights.

I am not ready yet
…never ready yet.

There is that feeling in the air,
it is here.

An empty chair, two of them
…empty arms.

The lights are there, harsh and blinding,
a watery perspective.

There is cheer
…everywhere.

JustMe.

I Know

I know I wasn’t what you expected,
I was never a girly girl,
Karate took precedence over dancing lessons,
I was rough around the edges
always.

I know I dashed your hopes,
I never fit into the expected box,
I saw people for who they really were,
I stood out
always.

I know I’m different,
I know I don’t fit,
I see people for who they really are,
I don’t want to fit into their box
ever.

I know my worth,
It took time to find my way,
I wasn’t what you were expecting,
But you loved me anyway
always.