Untidiness

She waves her hand dismissively,
makes untidiness a grace –
“Things find their own place to be

look how the leaves grow on the tree,
seek to feel sunlight on each face”
She waves her hand dismissively.

Victim of lost glasses, and lost keys,
letters that disappear without trace –
things find their own place to be –

and offer serendipity –
a photograph, a scrap of lace.
She waves her hand dismissively

as I arrange things tidily,
set every object in its place.
Things find their own place to be

I think, when it’s all down to me
to sort, and throw, and clear this space,
recall her wave dismissively,
let things find their own place to be.

Laura is hosting Poetics at dVerse tonight, and thinking about order. She has introduced me to Elizabeth Jennings, a poet who wrote in a very structure way, despite her own chaotic live. I have chosen to use a form – I think I need a bit of anchoring at the moment.

Touching

I have been in the hands of nurses –
lost my dignity – had it handed back
like a box of tissues. I have felt
the warmth that glows through
the plastic gloves, I know their kindness –

and yet, in pain and fear,
our mammal selves seek skin –
hold my hand tightly –
we’re all that new-born baby
seeking comfort
on our mother’s belly.

I haven’t hugged my husband
in six weeks, she told me.
That’s how we show our love now,
at a time when hugging’s
what we crave. I’m lonely.

Dying, we deserve that press of skin,
that last handhold, before
the loneliness. And we deserve
to take that comfort from the dying.

We forgot that we were animals,
that we built tribes, herds, flocks.
We didn’t realise how much
we needed all those other senses,
living through our eyes,
typing our words, connecting
through our screens. I miss
your arms around me, and
the scent of you, and your
cracked laughter. Most of all,
your touch.

This is for Bjorn at dVerse– a poem written in time of plague. I’m not sure I’ve quite hit the brief. I’d like to think we’ll all be changed, that we’ll realise the value of the underpaid, under-appreciated keyworkers who keep the world running; that we’ll remember the multi-millionaires who dumped their workers in the shit; that we’ll recall which politicians acted in the interests of their country, and which ones acting in the interests of a small elite. I’m not sure that we will. I hope so.

Three aspects of silence

There are times when it’s enough to not say a word,
to empty myself even of the warm breath,
to let all my thoughts rise free as a singing bird –

sometimes there are no songs fit to be sung –
I must lock my words up behind my lips,
I must cage my speech, tie up my unruly tongue,

and sometimes silence is a pillow I can rest upon,
a wave that endlessly carves, reforms, and carves the beach,
a bird rising, rising, and silence the wind it rides on.

Laura is hosting at dVerse for Tuesday poetics. She’s given us a fascinating prompt, inspired by traditional Welsh poetry. We’ve been given a choice of 3 line sets, to make into a series of 3 tercets.

Apple blossom

Me, I’m pink and wholesome
opening to the spring,
letting every bee come,
their buzzing kisses cling,
and the wild birds sing,

and when my blushes fade
see how my belly swells:
in every orchard glade
where I shed my pink petals
you will find apples

This is such a lovely prompt fromLinda at dVerse – she asks us to imagine we are a flower. I wanted to use a traditional form for such a pretty prompt, so I’ve opted for paired cinquains.

Neon lights

Next door’s angel kept her watch all Christmas

as if even her neon blood was warmed

by all that love and peace. I’d see her

if I woke at night, resting on Mary’s wall,

wings spread and glowing golden.

 

Epiphany came, and she was packed away

to wait the year out, leaving the night

sullen and dark, or hazed and mazed with stars,

much colder and more distant

than our fearful lights, more enduring.

 

We blaze with self-importance,

but in the end, we’re small,

and faint, and human.

 

I’m hosting at dVerse tonight, and our theme is the elements – the chemical ones, not the astrological ones! Check out the other dVerse poets, and join in.

New birth

Eighteen years on, a birth is happening again:
the whole house labouring
as my daughter pushes and presses
against the walls, seeking to leave.

In fact I’ve given birth
each day for the last 18 years –
first smile, first steps, first day at school,
first love, first heartbreak –
each expansion a contraction.

And now my daughter’s giving birth
to her own self, and I’m her doula,
holding her hand, urging her on –
“Push!”, I say, “Push hard,
push on, push through –

one more

and you’ll be there”.

Amaya is hosting at dVerse tonight, and we’re thinking about birth, on every level.

The mothers speak

Do not neglect us –
the women whose children
were ripped untimely
from their wombs.
We did not give birth,
we had birth taken from us –
we gave our bodies over
to the men and women
in blue scrubs
and latex gloves.
We lay down quietly
to be sliced open
for our children’s sake –
our stitched up bellies,
patchworked wombs,
our scars, inside and out,
mark us as warriors, too.

Amaya is hosting at the dVerse bar tonight. She is blissed out on oxytocin at the moment, and asks us to think about birth – literally and metaphorically. Such a rich topic – this is my literal one.

Small dreams

My dreams were small ones – only for

An ordinary life, lived out in ordinary ways,

No river of excitement, just a gentle

Stream of endless, ordinary days

 

I carried those dreams with me, held them firm,

under my shirt, hidden against my skin,

With other precious things, the things I kept,

A holy medal and a mother’s ring,

 

As if those things would warm me, in the cold

Wild rocking boat, pressed tight,

Hip against hip, arms wrapped around you,

In all the dirty dangers of the night.

 

Sometimes small dreams are still too much to bear,

Small dreams can be too heavy to hold on,

And when the waves came rising up around me

Somehow I found that all my dreams were gone.

 

My dreams were small: an ordinary life,

Lived out in peace, in ordinary ways.

Bjorn is hosting at dVerse tonight. He’s interested in how poems change when we change the “person” they are written in. This poem was originally written in the third person (you can find it here). I’ve changed it to make it first person. Is it stronger? Maybe. I worry about appropriating other people’s stories, so I would never normally write about something traumatic that I hadn’t experienced myself in the first person. Let me know what you think.

Washed clean – poem for dVerse

Somehow I became
obsessed
entranced
by water – the smooth
laminar flow
the turbulence
the tidal rise and fall
of the river

because this is estuarine country

and the soft sound
of the stream
after rain

and the surge
and fall
rise and drop
movement
constant lift and lowering
of the sea
the green grey blue
of the ocean
the white topped waves

and the gull flying

and the movement
of water

washes me clean

as if the water in me
sings to the water in the world
moves with its movement
echoes its rise and fall
and laminar flow

and the rain is me
and the stream is me
and the river is me
and the ocean is me

and I am them
washed clean.

Linda is hosting at dVerse tonight. She asks how we purify our minds – very apt for the times we’re living through.