A Maiden Voyage


You sound envious when you call me a beautiful dreamer
But in my dreams I am cast in stone
Immovable in my habits and afraid of the sea

In waking you don’t see what I see
That you are a force to be reckoned with
And I know which I would rather be

At the helm of a storm battered ship
You breathe out the wind that pulls at the sails
Leaving salty sea spray fingerprints as you go

While I batten down hatches
You push towards unknown shores
Always finding true north on the horizon

As seafarers go I am less than weathered
Thought my palms do show the signs
Of rope tumbling too fast for me to stop the falling

But with every cut to my skin
I am still surprised
by just how much you can lose to the waves

I wonder if I will ever understand
That no man is and Island, or an ocean
Or a riddle to be solved

So I will try to learn your ways
Live a life open to the changes of the sea
And never be chained to the ocean floor.

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Paper Dolls

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Sometimes when I picture my mother
In place of her silhouette
I see rows of the paper dolls I used to make as a child
Patiently cut
All hair and skirt
With white waiting for colour
And hands held

One of those paper dolls used to tuck me into bed at night
Kisses on my forehead and twilight whispers of a fairy princess
In a castle built of sunflowers
Bright and hot yellow and perfect

Another of the dolls, all skirt and hair
Has held my hand, taken me into the woods
Pointed out wild flowers in the banks
And gifted me the names of each bird
Not seen, but heard in tree top songs

One doll stands lightly
One foot balanced on the inside of her other leg
Just above the knee
Like the old shepherds
She will tell me of monkeys and elephants
And hot sticky Indian summers spent under tin roofs

Nestled amongst the paper silhouettes are other mother dolls,
The one who taught me to watch out of windows for disappearing coat tails
And the one from who I learnt
That sometimes there just aren’t enough tissues to wipe away the tears,
You have to lay out buckets instead

All lined up in a row,
Not one is less her than the other
Not the one who won’t get out of bed, nor the one who made me dresses for the spring
Not even the one who told me I didn’t need her, and made me more mother than daughter on dark days

Most of the dolls love me, some don’t always
But if you stack enough dolls atop one another
Eventually there will be too many to tear in two, or three, or four
My mother and her paper doll silhouettes are strong
I can only hope that is something I inherit from her

I’ve learnt to listen more than speak, give more than take
And rely only on myself
I’ve been left behind, in countries and train stations and thoughts
Know the backs of the dolls as well as their faces
But they’ve all taught me to love them same
Forces out of our control may of turned my mother into a thousand paper dolls

But we will find a way to colour it all beautiful.

Paint and Punctuation


You say you like filling in the colours of me,

Like its a game.

Like I am a paint by numbers, that with a steady hand you can keep between the lines.

You litter our conversations with your misplaced punctuation marks, mistakingly believing that questions are the tools for finding buried treasure.

But your life has been different from mine, and you can’t understand what it is you’re asking, can’t know that each time you insist on an answer you’re getting me ready for a fall.

So as I desperately try to keep my footing you tell me I’m holding back.

What if I am?

What if this is a game you insist on winning?

Then who but me is left on the losing side?

I am not a paint by numbers.

I am not measured by the answers I won’t give to your questions.

A person is made up of more than other people’s paint and punctuation.

Nesting

Today I directed my mimesis at the birds
And have made a nest in my bedroom,
Not on the mattress, that seemed too lofty for my dreams

It is on the floor, in the space between the bed and the window
Built upon a foundation of worn, blue carpet
It is all cushions and wool blankets and safety

From my position on the floor I can just see the sky
I can look up at the fairy lights I’ve hung around the window frame
And they twinkle like stars against the never quite black

In the city you don’t always see the stars

In the city it can feel like there aren’t so many safe spaces

So you build your nests like the birds
Looking for refuge in the spaces you can find
For the disaster days, and late into the heartbreak nights

A place where the constant hum of the streets can fade
A place in the quiet where you can breathe lighter
And feel bigger than the sum of your parts

So that there are times, even in the city
When you can remember some of the truths that you know
And remind yourself what stars in the night sky look like.

5 years later…

I can remember the colours my heart made
When I poured its contents on to paper
And wrote you my first love letter.

Was that when I fell for writing?
Or just the first time I knew there was more to be said?
What does a girl know of love or life when she is just five?

That was twenty years ago now,
And I’ve learnt a bit less about love and a bit more about life
And you’ve been gone and away for what feels like forever.

Today would have been one of your milestones
And I see the path you would of trod in your fathers eyes
And in my fathers. You three a band of brothers.

You came before me and you left before me
And I know stories of your boyhood and innocence and spirit
And how you turned two fellow boys into men.

And if you ask my Father he will tell you,
You made him think that he may not fail with me
So you are gone, but still felt here and I am grateful.

For your father and the father you made ready for me
And my life which started after yours but carried on past you
My brother through the family we pick but are not given.

Happy Birthday, and where ever you are
Know that every life leaves ripples on the lake
Yours are still felt.

Even if I am never a pretty one.


I may never be a pretty one
But I know John Donnes Good Morrow by heart
And I can hike a mountain without complaint.
Ok, maybe not a mountain, just a large hill.
But I’ll run down it like a mountain goat
And I’ll put my hands in every stream and all the rivers
Just hoping it will wash something clean.

You might catch me counting umbrellas in the rain
Or tracing raindrops lifelines down window panes,
Because even the smallest of journeys deserves a witness.
There will be times I listen without hearing,
Or speak without thinking,
But I will always try to be the better side of myself.

I carry a nature book around with me,
Hoping I’ll come across something new
On those late summer walks
And just like that I will know something you don’t.
It is not to be better than you though,
I don’t think that could be possible.
I just need to feel a forward motion.

I like the music turned right up, so loud you can feel it
So loud that I can’t hear the me in my head
It’s an odd type of silence that follows.
And I have an annoying habit,
of assuming I know just what you will say
So I will always try to say it first.
I never get it right…

I’ll fill notebooks and pages and post its with words for you to read
And then I will hate that I ever showed you
But we can make forts out of duvets,
Spend afternoons hiding from the outside world,
Share all our secrets when we are safe within its down feather walls.
Then when morning comes back around I’ll cook you breakfast,
But don’t look at me like that when it’s burnt.

Even though I will never want to
If you ask, I’ll show you all my messy bits and hurts.
They may look too vast or too shallow
To eyes like yours that aren’t familiar with the traumas that caused them
But I dare you to ever call me broken
Even in the secret parts of your mind you keep from me.
I love to prove people wrong.

They say I have walls built up inside
Ones of brick and mortar
And the discarded memories of thing that once hurt
It seems odd to me, to think of them there
When I know I can cling too tight and love too hard.
Never the less, I must admit to secret parts
If you want, I’ll show you the weak spots,
I’ll even pass you the hammer.

So no, I may never be a pretty one.
But I like to think that doesn’t stop there being hidden treasures underneath.

Wildflower 

 


I am the wild flower 
Gentle amongst the rocks 
And found between the tracks 
Unfavourable conditions, 
But I have roots that find solace in cracks. 

Delicate petals hide the strongest of wills 
And storms and floods can rage and whirl 
Colours may fade
But spring always comes round again 
Cracks have become the home that I made. 

Salvation

I Miss You

I miss you’s
Have never made you any closer.
Never lessened the distance
Nor eased the longing.
They don’t replace sleepy looks and gentle touches
Or make this house feel like it’s a home.
With I miss you there is just too much space
Between You and I
And the nights are too long and the days too dark.

I miss you’s are not
I love you’s or I want you’s or even I need you’s
When there is something on the top shelf
That I just can’t reach.

Of all the three word sentences
That I have for you
I miss you is the worst
Because it explains so little
But still I save them all up
And send them anyway

I miss you will always be better than

The Book of You


Do you hide secrets in those numbers?
Amongst the economics and the sleepy afternoon lessons,
Wrapped up in Adam Smiths sentiments,
Do you keep something separate for you,
Even after the things that you give to me?

On a late night train to London,
When fields and forest recede to blur and black,
And possibilities keep you company.
Or on Saint Ambroses stone roads of Pota Venezia
Where words that are quick to offend
Lead to tempers quick to respond.

What other stories do you keep hidden,
References whispered across white cotton playgrounds
When only bodies keep the score
And those smaller spaces mean no more
Than less space between your skin and her.

What parts do you keep for you,
When all your parts you give to me.