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.