Me and the stories- poem for dVerse

The thing is to tell my story, not yours, not steal your pain to pass off as my own,
not take your truth to be turned into lies, and yet to be touched by your words,
as they become part of me, a softening under the skin of my heart.
I am the things that I hear, I am the low hum of traffic, the rattle of trailers
I am the sound of the stream that runs by the door of the house,
I am the echo of birdsong, the harsh, croaking cry of the rooks.
I am the sum of your words, and my words, and the words that I read,
and the buzz f the screen, the machine that connects me to you and
the stories of others, words gathered and tumbled, piled high up and teetering
and I am the child who runs up the passage, and the mother
turning the story over and over, inspecting it with me and looking for clues,
and the father who leans in, expectant, and sharing his fears, and I
am the hiss of hot water that’s filling the cup, and the crunch of the biscuit,
and a sudden dark rumble of thunder, and rain on the window,
and wind in the trees, and I go forth, I go forth, and I listen,
and the thing is to tell my story, not yours.
I am the girl at the checkout, the man with the trolley,
and the dog at the door, and the cat that slinks under the hedge,
I’m the deep throb of the lorry, the shrill of the phone,
and the words and the words and the words and the words.

I wrote this for tonight’s dVerse prompt. Gina is prompting tonight, and she asks us to think about what sits underneath our poems, or alongside them – the hum of our lives. How does our non-writing self influence our writing self? I hear a lot of difficult, painful stories in my line of work. I make a conscious effort not to appropriate them – they are not mine to tell – but I’m sure they seep in at the edges. Thinking about that got a bit jumbled up with a Walt Whitman poem I read last night: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/there-was-child-went-forth-every-day and I tried to bring an echo of that – but I can’t do those immensely long lines. This is a very wide poem for me. My poems tend to be tall and thin.

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Bridge for Sue Vincent #writephoto.

beneath-the-bridgeI sat under the bridge because that’s what trolls do. It’s a shade thing. Our skin is sensitive to sunlight. That’s why we often seem grumpy. “Sun-touched”, we call it. We wonder about you guys, striding around in all that light. You cover up your bodies, that’s obvious, but your faces are exposed all the time. It’s no wonder you have so many wars.

I’m talking too much. Most trolls don’t say very much. We’re shy and retiring. We like to curl up in the shade, spend time watchin and listening, rather than endlessly talking. My uncle curled up under a tree one time, and a bird thought he was a big rock, and built a nest in the hollow under his arm. He had to wait three months for the eggs she laid to hatch, and the baby birds to fly away. He told me later it was the best three months of his life. He spent his days watching the sunlight move over the grass, the rain clouds coming in and passing away, even the grass itself growing.

I liked to sit under the bridge, and think. I watched the water change colour as the sun moves overhead. I saw the movement of the wind. I heard the sound of voices and footsteps as people crossed the bridge above me – always chatting, laughing, quarrelling. So quick to move and change. More recently, I heard the rumbling of cars and lorries, shaking the bridge just a little. Sometimes there were fish in the water, or ducks – almost as quick to quarrel as humans.

That day was a little different. I heard two voices, one deep, one light. They sounded angry, and that made me sad. Trolls don’t like anger. I tried to concentrate on the shape of the rocks in the water, and how the water rippled around them, but the voices grew louder. Then there was a splash. Somebody had thrown something off the bridge. I watched it move through the water, settling at the bottom on the fine river sand, reflecting the sunlight as it went down. There was silence after that.

I don’t often move from this spot, but this little thing was so tiny and so sparkling that it intrigued me. Very slowly I got up and waded into the water. It was hard to find – my movements made the water swirl up silt and sand from the river bed, but finally I had it in my hand. A tiny ring of gold, with a sparkling stone set in it. A diamond.

How I howled. Don’t they realise, those flashing, shifting, quarrelsome humans? Each diamond is a baby troll. Once they’re plucked from the earth they can’t grow any more. Poor little diamonds – they’ll never have the joy of watching a daisy open, or a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. They’ll never feel the difference between a wind bringing gentle showers and one bringing rain. They’re just a little stone, chained onto some human’s finger.

And that is why I shook the bridge. I shook and shook, until it shattered into fragments. Down it came, crashing and thudding – cars, too, and a couple of humans – not so quick now, not so fast to move. I still felt sad, though. It didn’t help.

I don’t sit under that bridge any more. I have a little spot up on the hillside, where I sit and watch the clouds form and float away. I keep the little diamond close by me, and tell her what I see. Maybe if she stays close to the earth she will get her chance to grow.

#writephoto

This is for Sue Vincent’s Writephoto prompt. I couldn’t think of any other reason to be under a bridge. 

Microfiction for Jane Dougherty – the blue kiss.

This is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. I’ve gone a tiny bit over the 200 words. She has suggested we do this as part of an on-going story (if we want to). I’m going to try it out, see where we go. The painting is by Munch – The kiss at the window. Edvard_Munch_-_Kiss_by_the_window_(1892)

The night air was hot and heavy on Stella’s skin, but she shivered as she slipped inside the darkened hallway. She shook her head. Rich people always turned the aircon up to high.It grew colder as she headed up the stairs, towards the bedroom.

Mr Locatelli had been very clear:

“You go in, you take pictures, you come out. Something that will stand up in court.”

He’d provided a plan of the house and snapshots of his wife. Stella had taken the job. The rent was due: she needed the money or she’d be sleeping in her office again.

The door handle was ice cold – she was glad of her leather gloves. As she pushed it open there was a rumble of thunder, and as she stepped into the room a flash of lightning illuminated the couple by the window. The man raised his lips from the woman’s neck, but then the light was gone as quickly as it had come.

She heard an almighty smash and fumbled to switch on the lights. She instinctively looked towards the window, but it was open wide. The man was gone, and where the couple had been were only scattered shards of what had once been Mrs Locatelli.