I remember your hand in mine as we scrambled over slippery Scottish rocks. Pulling you up past ochre seaweed and barnacles salt wind searing cheeks. You were so brave. Little legs leaping to keep up. You won’t remember but we took on the world that day, alone against brooding sky and sea. Now your legs are so much longer than mine. But somehow still you’ll always be my little brother hand in hand searching for sea otters
My little brother gets married this weekend. I’m so proud of him – all he has done and the person he has become. This one is for him.
“Too much information” you said when I asked if anyone had a tampon. I beg to differ, i’d say you don’t have enough. I haven’t told you about lying on toilet floors as endometriosis tears my insides out. I haven’t described what it feels like to hurtle through waves of hormone mood swings every month and still keep the show on the road. I haven’t explained what it means to be the one to grow a child then push it out through my vagina headfirst to greet the world. Have you seen what my body has done, achieved, made? How fucking dare you imply my monthly blood is a shame-soaked secret?
But its ok.
If you don’t want me to ask for a tampon maybe i’ll just bleed on your shoes.
You came like a bolt into my womb and into my heart. And then my body and my world fell down.
You were so loved for that short time that I carried you.
A paper cut-out of a life full of future. Crumpled, discarded. As a fluttered heartbeat …..stops….. and bloody pulp gets flushed away.
My body throbs with your loss, achingly knowing you are not there.
This is grief without the memories to anchor back to. Only the space where your tiny form would have parted the air is gone.
I can still taste the place you would have been.
In my plans.
In my dreams.
In my arms.
I wrote most of this poem after having a miscarriage over 5 years ago and it’s now ready to be sent into the world. I am now at peace with our loss, and feel unbelievably blessed to have my husband and two boys. But I feel it’s important to be honest about what our unborn baby meant to me, and how it felt for the promise of that new life to be wrenched away. Miscarriage is very common, but I feel it is too rarely talked about.
I did not know I had hate in me till you pulled it out. Like a fish being wrenched from the throat of a bird.
But you were sick where was my pity? I searched for it among the cracks in the pavement.
But I could not find it.
I spread my wings wide over my babies and hissed, hating what you had turned me into.
Sometimes there are moments that make you question the person you thought you were. Where a challenging situation hits at the glue that holds you together, and everything becomes wobbly. This is about one of those times a few years ago.
Why should I fear leaving young womanhood behind when all around me stand older women glorious as trees that have held firm laughing through storms. Did I see how much of the sky you held up for me as I waltzed beneath your canopy? I see you now all around me like magnificent brass pots of life. Light reverberating off every dent, pouring through every crack. Bathing me in warmth. I know the path will be glorious. You have shown me the way.
This poem is for the many, many women older than me who inspire me on a daily basis. This is for all of you. Thank you for your example. Your grace. Your courage. Your love. And thank you for showing me how to boss this life thing.
Three years old and arms reached high touching the sky on Selsley common.
I wrote this in the summer of 2020, as we were emerging from the first lockdown. Loved ones had died and been born without us being there. But over that beautiful, hard summer, there were also quiet moments of joy. Just over a year latermy boys were back on the bench, a year older but still reaching for the sky.
Be free. We are here to look after those you love.
Last breath you are gone. A song to lift you on your way.
Open the window the sun has come out. Snatches of your life speak to me now.
Plaits round the head of a little Dutch girl. A quiet room with a ticking clock. One dress for a newly-wed doctors wife who doesn’t know how to make tea.
One lost child in a hospital tent. A drive through the night to an Irish beach. Windmills on the end of a teaspoon.
Drawers full of patchwork and home-spun wool. New roof on a Welsh cowshed. Girl at the window of an Amsterdam house looking down at an RAF doctor.
Long days in a children’s hospital. Grandchildren with gardens on trays. Embroidery on a child’s old dress.
There is a yellow daffodil in the bed where you lay. Be peace-filled now we will all be ok.
Know that Martin is with Neil. And tomorrow Neil and Annemarie will cross fields to feed the horses.
My Granny Els died earlier this year. She was an inspirational, complicated, beautiful and kind person. I have learnt so much from her and miss her dearly. Her life spoke and was full of stories. I wrote this poem aftersitting with her as she died and read it at her funeral.
She got a sticker for being the smileyest pupil the first week in her new school. When they gave it to her she wondered, had she been smiling? Her face hurt so she supposed she must have been. Somehow she already knew. People like you more if you smile.